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.

For those looking for a good ground cover plant, you can still choose Lily of the Valley. 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 plant an invasive plant.Pin

Some consider a Lily of the Valley an invasive plant. The rhizomes or the roots of it 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.

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. 

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

Using your spade or a flat-bladed shovel, dig up the plants and as many roots as you can. Then, rake the area to remove any roots that are 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.

Lastly, bag up the removed lily 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 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.

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 anything like mulch, gravel, soil, or cinder blocks to hold it down in place. 

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. If you used cardboard or newspaper covered with mulch, you could use it as a prepared planting bed instead of throwing it out.

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.

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 you can, planting your lilies of the valley in moist soil that drains well. 

Before applying the herbicide, read the label and apply it according to the product’s instructions. Additionally, you’ll want to wear gloves and a mask while working for safety precautions.

You should know that the herbicide will kill any perennials or grass that are 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 no other lily of the valley plants grows again.

All in all, the organic method is effective, safer, and environmentally friendly. For this purpose, we recommend using the herbicide only if following the organic method doesn’t work.

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