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Old 05-21-2006, 03:02 PM   #1
Grafting the Toe
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OT-Agressive Plant Warning for the Gardeners Here
I just came inside and scrubbed my hands after doing battle with some Japanese Lantern (Physalis capsicifolia, Physalis lanceifolia, or Physalis ramosissima for those of you who speak Latin to your plants).

Ye gods, but this stuff is invasive! It had been planted by the person who gardened here before DH & I bought this house, so it’s had about 2 years to establish itself. I THINK she put 1 plant in the ground, 6-8 inch pot probably.

I let it grow last year, my first in the house, because I was spending that year discovering what I had, what I wanted to move, and all that fun stuff.

It's a viney-creepy plant, which grows about 3-4 feet tall and has little cream-colored flowers in the spring. In the summer it produces the fruit, a bright orange lantern shape (hence the name), which dry nicely.

Here's the tricky bit: this stuff will take over your bed! When I saw how much more of it there was this year compared to last, I decided it had to go. It's one of those plants which will break off just below the soil line if tugged on. When I started digging to see if I could get more of the root, I found out how it got so far so fast. It sends out running roots, which just seem to go on forever. I got one I swear was 8 feet long, and it broke off when it went under the cement pad for the hot tub.

My advice: If you fall in love with it at your nursery, plant it in pots on your patio, many feet away from any flowerbeds it might touch when it starts to creep. I certainly wouldn’t put it in the compost heap; just the idea gives me chills. I don't know if the seeds will spread on the wind, maybe there’s a more experienced gardener here who knows?

Forewarned is forearmed!

Happy Gardening!
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Old 05-21-2006, 04:39 PM   #2
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Thanks for the warning. I've never seen anything quite like that. We had a similar experience when we bought our house. They had some creeping vine thing and it would wind around all the other plants and kill them. Same thing, it would break just under the ground and you couldn't get to the roots. It's been 7 years and we still haven't gotten it all. It's a lot better, but not completely gone. I feel your pain!
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Old 05-21-2006, 05:37 PM   #3
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Hm, maybe I can use it to occupy the gudder on the side of my pool. We have a 1 foot wide gudder which we want to leave for drainage, but we are too busy to plant anything on it. Each year weeds grow out of it and they become a nusense. Do you think I can use one of this pretty lantern to occupy the gudder so no weeds can grow?
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Old 05-21-2006, 07:13 PM   #4
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My grandmother had a little rose garden on a hill. One side sloped down and ended at a waist high brick wall. She had Japanese Lanterns planted on the slope so it wouldn't erode. She put in a stop edging, so the lanterns would not grow into her roses. It worked well in stopping erosion but she still had to weed.
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Old 05-21-2006, 07:58 PM   #5
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Anree, the lantern is vicious in a garden, as you have discovered to your horror. Seeds are spread whenever the pods are broken - they can be scattered by wind/rain, and also by animals.

In terms of invasiveness, this plant is right up there with Deadly Nightshade. I've heard from local gardeners that the only way to truly get rid of it is to dig down to expose as much of the root system, then destroying the roots with fire. Depending on the proximity to your domicile, this may or may not be a fabulous option for you. Fire permits may also be required, depending on how extensive the root system is.
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Old 05-21-2006, 08:24 PM   #6
Grafting the Toe
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Well, it's right next to the outer wall of my library/knitting room... I'm not sure fire is the best option.

How about Agent Orange? Or possibly Napalm? :rofling:

My mom had some when she moved in to her house, she fought it pretty hard for a couple of years, digging up as much root as she could every time the pesky thing dared show a shoot, and she seems to have won...

If all else fails, we can just sell the house in winter when it's not growing!

I will continue to battle, I refuse to be defeated!

Look, a windmill to tilt at! :rofling:
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Old 05-21-2006, 10:10 PM   #7
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Sure is pretty though!

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Old 05-21-2006, 10:39 PM   #8
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Yeah, it's pretty, but I only need to be told once about an invasive plant, to not want to have anything to do with it! I've had enough of invasive plants... In my last place we had a real problem with Sumack (sp? ..not the poisonous Sumack, just the regular fern-like tree).

skNYC, there are other ground covers that would work in that situation. I'd avoid this one, it's bound to become a problem. If you ever wanted to change your mind and plant something else, you'd have a hard time getting rid of this one, and it will want to spread all over the place, beyond where you put it.

It's a trench sort of thing you're talking about? Where water passes? Anything moisture-tollerant will work, and also take a look at how many hours of sun that spot gets and what kind of soil it has, to see if a plant will do well.

My favorite ground cover is Vinca vine. It spreads nicely but is not invasive, and it has shiny dark leaves and gorgeous purple/blue flowers in the spring, it's soooo pretty. It will also grow in full shade or full sun. I hope I'm calling it by the right name
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Old 05-22-2006, 01:45 AM   #9
Grafting the Toe
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Originally Posted by Jan in CA
Sure is pretty though!
That's the problem!

I saw a woman at one of the local nurseries loading up with about 6 8-inch pots of the stuff...

I hope she knows what she's getting into!
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Old 05-22-2006, 08:06 AM   #10
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Thanks for the warning. I battle bindweed constantly and found the best way to control (notice I didn't say get rid of) it is to make Cups of Death with Round Up. Make up a gallon of RU, just slightly weaker, and pour it into old plastic butter containers. Cut out a rectangle in the top of the container to put a loop of the vine through and put some of the vine into the solution in the cup. Then snap the lid on. The middle of the vine, don't yank the plant out of the ground and leave the growing end alone too. Then walk away. It kills me not to yank it but it will suck down the RU to the roots and kill itself off a bit.
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