Eliminating bluebells Spanish and English

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Woodland Jennifer, May 28, 2011.

  1. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    My flower beds, secret gardens and veg. garden are getting taken over with bluebells. I see Spanish and English. They have really gone 'wild' this year with many new green stems around each plant. I can't reach the bulbs, they are down too deep. The leaves lie flat and I can't get to the soil. Unfortunately they are coming up in peonies, clematis, roses, blueberries etc.
    I have been picking up all the seed pods for the past three days since I can't find the bulbs.
    I wondered if cutting them off at ground level would starve them.
    Thanks for help, I am desparate.
    Jennifer
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    You are likely to have hybrid bluebells rather than Spanish or English. If you do have true English, you should really consider retaining this rarely seen (here) and comparatively hard to please European wildflower. To place things in perspective, hybrid bluebells abound down here, in and around Seattle but only one location for the English has been mentioned to me - and this is of a white form rather than the typical blue.

    The true English bluebell produces tubular, highly fragrant flowers with petals that roll back at the mouth. I have never seen it, despite purchasing what was asserted to be the true item twice in recent years - in both cases the bulbs producing obviously incorrect flowers the first spring after planting.

    To combat an infestation, dig up the bulbs and drown, mash, microwave or dry them thoroughly before composting them. It may take searing summer heat or attic dryness to render the bulbs a fatal blow. Maybe it is more practical to try drowning them: put them into a tub of water for a few months. The leaves and flowers can be composted with no fear of their resurrection

    http://www.arthurleej.com/a-bluebell.html
     
  3. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    Ron, thank you very much for your help and the link. Very interesting. Other than the places I mentioned in my post, I have a stand of bluebells under a viburnum shrub. They look like the bluebells I remember from home, England. I shall check them out and leave them if they are the English bluebell. Those mentioned in my post are giants and they do set seed pods.
    It seems to me that the past year they decided to go forth and prosper!
    I had lemon balm many years, peacefully sitting in a corner of my veg. garden. One year it decided to populate. I wondered if plants have, in their DNA, a point at which they make a leap. An interesting thought.
    Thanks again. Jennifer
     
  4. Keke

    Keke Active Member 10 Years

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    If you can get the bulbs up and you have local squirrels, leave them out on a dry sidewalk for, oh, about 15 minutes. Squirrels love 'em, and will eat as many as I lay out (I have rampant bluebells too). BTW, they do not tend to take them away and rebury.
    keke
     
  5. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    Keke, Thank you for your reply. I have squirrels here, we live on twenty acres so those I find I shall leave for them.
    Mostly, I can't find the bulbs even though I dig deeply and with great patience.
    Jennifer
     
  6. dt-van

    dt-van Active Member 10 Years

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    I'm surprised that you can't find the bulbs even when digging deeply. Here on the coast my bluebell bulbs are never more than 3"-4" below the surface and sometimes only an inch or so when theyhave multiplied a lot. I'd imagine they might be somewhat deeper in a drier colder area like Nakusp, but not so deep that you can't find them! I often find it is easier and less stressful for whatever they are hiding under to lift out the whole shrub or hosta and then pull them out from below rather than digging lots of holes to try to get down to the bulbs. Regularly pulling out or cutting off the leaves at ground level will eventually kill the bulbs and will certainly weaken them an reduce their potential to spread. And it is certainly less stressful for their neighbours.
     
  7. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    Thank you for your reply.
    It seems for me, the solution is to keep cutting them off. I dug up a large plant yesterday which had bluebells growing in it and all I got was the stems.
    I think my problem is, that over the years I have dug in cow manure. Also, in two large borders and two secret gardens I have raised the soil level gradually over time.
    Growing in the peonies for example, are many tiny threads of stem with minute bulbs on the bottom. I am presuming they are either from this years pods or from last year. Since there is about fifteen to each clump I try to gather every piece but some get covered in soil. I am hoping I am not producing more bluebells. It is impossible to get every tiny thread.
    I shall consider what you said and maybe relocate those which can be moved to carefully screen soil.
    We had a three foot cover of snow on our land this winter but the ground usually freezes before being snow covered.
    Thanks again.
    Jennifer
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Here's some genuine Bluebells. They're common in woodlands (as opposed to gardens, where nearly all are hybrid Hyacinthoides × massartiana). Might be able to collect some seed for them's as wants it.
     

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  9. sma7

    sma7 Member

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    I too have been plagued by bluebells and mine, also, are so deep I cannot get to them. Last year we managed to pull some of them out but lost many snowdrops that were in amongst them without realising it. I wonder if cutting them off at ground level as they come up would help eradicate them?
     
  10. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    I have over two thousand tulips and as many snowdrops and crocus. I have lost quite a few trying to reach the bluebell bulbs. I have taken every bulb I found and bagged it. I have six enormous garbage bags full of leaves, bluebell flowers and assorted bulbs, mostly not BB, now and I am only halfway there. I try to find the bulbs where the BB isn't growing in another plant. It seesm to me, that the newest ones are shallow which leaves me to think they migrate downwards. They will stew in the summer sun in the bags. I would cut the leaves off and compost them but they are mixed with seed pods.
    I notice that in a path, soil covered with rotted sawdust, edged with a low rock wall between my mixed borders, the bluebells creep out each year and I dig them up. These come with the bulbs intact. This year however, they have marched out about six inches and go further up the path. I wonder if, taking them out each year, bulb and all, that they don't get a chance to dig-in, these being from seed. Just a thought.
    Good luck.
    Jennifer
     

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