How To Get Rid of Lily of the Valley?

Lily of the Valley, scientifically referred to as Convallaria majalis, is a beautiful plant with a bell-shaped flower and a delightful scent. It’s nice to have in your garden, but it gets annoying when it spreads and takes over what’s near.

Those looking for a good ground cover plant can still choose Lily of the Valley.

Some consider a Lily of the valley plant an invasive plant.Pin

As long as you plant it in a suitable location, one with plenty of space to roam without the threat of invading other plants in the garden, the valley’s lily can be a welcome addition.

Some consider a Lily of the Valley an invasive plant. The rhizomes or their roots can form large colonies. Even a small rhizome left in the soil can grow into a full-grown plant.

The rhizomes can grow and spread to cover larger areas. They can even invade your neighbors’ gardens. So, it’s good to know how to get rid of the lily of the valley when the situation calls for it.



White lily of the valley flowers on green leavesPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @tiina2eyes

Lily-of-the-valley is a perennial that does well in partial to full shade. It spreads rapidly, forming a thick, dense ground cover. Nevertheless, it can also be grown in indirect sunshine or partial shade.  

How to Get Rid of Lily of the Valley?

Digging up the lilies and smothering their roots are effective organic ways to eliminate the valley’s lilies.

If you want a faster approach, using a herbicide is your best choice. Using chemicals is an easier way to get rid of the lily of the valley, but not the safest.

Two Ways to Remove Lily of the Valley

Killing off the lily of the valley isn’t impossible, but it needs patience and persistence. Killing the plants’ rhizomes is your number one priority when getting rid of the lily of the valley because the tiniest portion of a rhizome will sprout. 

White lily of the valley flowers in sunlight.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @hollowman999

Reducing the amount of shade and moisture that the lily of the valley needs to grow is a good start. But that can’t work on its own. Use one of the following methods.

Related: Is The Lily of the Valley Poisonous?

Organic Method

Eradicating the lily of the valley organically can be done in two ways:

Digging and Removing the Roots

Dig up the plants and as many roots as you can using your spade or a flat-bladed shovel. Then, rake the area to remove any roots stuck to the soil.

Any compost or slow-release granular fertilizers you use for your plants will only feed leftover rootlets. 

You may need to wear your gloves and use your hands to sift through the soil and remove any smaller pieces of the roots left behind.

White bell-shaped flowers with green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @bjorn.sundqvist

Lastly, bag up the removed lilies from the valleys and dispose of them as yard waste.

This method is best done when the soil is moist. It’s effective and environmentally friendly, but it needs a lot of effort and patience.

Smothering

Smothering is another effective organic way to get rid of the lily of the valley. This can be done in early spring when the plant starts to sprout.

First, make sure to cut any mature plants as close to the ground as possible. Then, lay down landscaping fabric, cardboard, a tarp, an old carpet, or several layers of newspaper (moistened) over the entire area where the lily of the valley grows.

White lily of the valley flowers with green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @maho.w.maaaaaaho

Use your garden spade to dig up the plants and rhizomes, then use the rake to remove any pieces. 

The second step is to weigh down the used material with mulch, gravel, soil, or cinder blocks. 

Leave the cover for an entire growing season. All the seedlings and the rhizomes should be dead by the end of the season.

You can clean the area afterward to replant it. Instead of throwing it out, you could use cardboard or newspaper covered with mulch as a prepared planting bed.

We recommend this method if you have a larger area full of lilies. Digging them up will take a long time and a lot of effort.

Dewy pink bell-shaped flowers.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @mirrormessagewear

Smothering can be used as a second step after digging and removing the plants. This ensures that no living rhizomes are left to grow into mature plants.

Chemical Method

This method involves using a non-selective herbicide that contains glyphosate, such as RoundUp. 

You can spray the plants with the herbicide several times as needed. To be most effective, spray the plants early in the spring as the plants are flowering.

We recommend spraying lily of the valley and then re-applying in two weeks, as it’s known to be a tough plant and might need two applications to kill all of it.

You should aim to replicate those conditions as closely as possible, planting your lilies of the valley in moist, draining soil. 

Before applying the herbicide, read the label and follow the product’s instructions. For safety precautions, you should wear gloves and a mask while working.

White lily of the valley flowers on green background.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @gardenstory.jp

You should know that the herbicide will kill any perennials or grass growing in the same bed as the lilies of the valley. This method is usually done as a follow-up step to the organic method to ensure that no other lily of the valley plants grow again.

Overall, the organic method is effective, safer, and environmentally friendly. However, if following the organic method doesn’t work, we recommend using the herbicide only.

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