Dave’s Gardening Corner: Update on Killing Grape Hyacinths

It’s been almost three years since I last posted on my war with the grape hyacinths (aka Muscari). Time for an update.

The good news is that my front yard has now been almost grape hyacinth free for a full year. I have painstakingly gone through and pulled each and every bulb by hand. Last year, I found maybe ten bulbs total, which I immediately removed and killed. My back yard had a total of two bulbs, which met a similar fate.

I have a long strip along the parking area in my back yard that is infested, however, and last Saturday I began that war. My guess is that I pulled close to a thousand bulbs, most in very tight bunches that came out of the  ground in fistfuls. I will have some more work to do back there, but I have full expectation of winning that particular battle in the coming weeks with the occasional grape hyacinth surviving until next year.

That strip connects to a small field behind my house that is literally overrun with the stupid things. I’m half-tempted to install a plastic barrier about 12 inches down that will stop them from spreading my way. It won’t take care of the seeds themselves, but I can battle those one-on-one. I could also be convinced to spray a heavy dose of ground kill on the areas closest to my property….

In the front yard, the source of the problem (two houses down) is a total loss. Sadly, the house between us gave up as well. He decided to go the weed killer route, and I can now attest from personal experience that it doesn’t work. His lawn is spotted with sprouts. As much as I can, I make small efforts to help him by pulling bulbs, but there’s only so much I can do without digging holes throughout his lawn.

The only good news is that there is a driveway between my lawn and his. Hopefully it is enough to keep them at bay.

Remember, if you choose to plant grape hyacinths, I will do my best to resist raining fire and brimstone down on your lawn, but I can’t promise you anything.

You’ve been warned.

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12 Responses to Dave’s Gardening Corner: Update on Killing Grape Hyacinths

  1. joeandlora says:

    I didn’t know what grape hyacinths were, so I googled them. Now, I may be naive, but aren’t they kind of pretty? The photos looked nice. Of course, maybe those are fakes to mislead the uninformed.

  2. daveloveless says:

    Sinner!!!!

    In all honesty, they are _very_ pretty… when they are controlled and not all wiry. But when they get chilled, the leaves turn nasty and wiry, and they are very invasive. You can’t contain them. If you could plant them and keep them in a single spot, like a tulip, I’d be a fan. But they don’t. They are worse than dandelions, which you could also argue are “pretty.”

    I can’t tell you how many times people are surprised when I tell them how much I hate grape hyacinths. Unsurprisingly, very few of those people have actually had grape hyacinths in their yard. 🙂

  3. Sarah L. says:

    Ooh, I just looked them up too! Pretty!

    Can you plant them in a pot? I want some.

  4. nosurfgirl says:

    But they smell like grapes!!!! I’ve actually always loved them. Crocuses, snowdrops and grape hyacinths. Do they spread with seeds, then, and not by root system? Yes, that would get tricky.

    I promise that i will not grow any grape hyacinths within, oh, 280 or so miles of you 😀

  5. Carol says:

    I’m on my second year of doing battle with grape hyacinths. This spring I am determined to wipe them out once and for all. Whenever weather permits (and this hasn’t been all too often in Ohio), I’m out there digging. I’ve had to sacrifice other plants to get the little buggers, but it’s worth it. I had hoped to get some less backbreaking suggestions on line, but to no avail. Soon, some night, I’ll be cutting the flowers off my neighbors plants. Sorry, it must be done.

  6. daveloveless says:

    Good luck, Carol! It took me years to win, but my lawn and garden is finally about 99% grape hyacinth free. I’m sure I’ll forever be digging out bulbs, but the nice thing is that they are easy to spot now, and the single bulbs come out with much less damage to my lawn.

  7. Kevin says:

    These plants are hard to kill! Grrrrr…

  8. jengosnell says:

    I cannot tell you how gratifying it was to find this blog just now and learn that someone else shares my utter hatred of these horrible little plants. I feel vindicated! 😀

    I just spent quite awhile digging out a bunch of them from the front flower beds at our new house. Tomorrow. I’m going to attack the ones that grow from the top of our rock wall in the back. Those might be tricky since I’m betting the rear neighbor’s yard might be infested too, under the fence – but if I’m lucky they have shared the hatred as well and already battled them. I guess for now I’ll just cross my fingers and dig like mad.

    Dave, you must have the patience of Job to have done all that digging, and my hat is off to you!

    • Anonymous says:

      Those nasty plants! There was a small one in my driveway. I removed the stones around it and there was the bulb, very shallow (for a change!), with at least 40 babies. They’re insidious!

  9. And to think I almost bought some of these pretty looking plants prior to happening upon your article!!

  10. Erik says:

    I have heard that a pig is good at getting rid of them. Let one loose on the house next door!

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