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We all need allies in the battle against weeds. Luckily, the woodland plant Epimedium helps fight off weeds in the early spring.

Most garden experts tell us to be vigilant about weeds in the early spring and to remove them before they take over a garden area.  Ground cover plants can help in this battle against weeds.

Epimedium grows well in shade and can be a weed barrier when planted around the base of trees and shrubs.  It is a woodland plant so needs moisture in order to get established but once it has taken hold it will persist even in dry conditions.  Of course, the better the conditions, the faster it will grow.

The common names are Barrenwort or Bishops Hat, and it is usually pest and disease free.

Characteristics of Epimedium

In early April, the leaves that have become dilapidated through the winter should be cut down when the fresh new growth emerges.

The leaves are attractive and held on wiry stems and they are followed by spikes of tiny flowers with spurs in mid April to early May.  The flowers are like miniature columbines.

Species and hybrids are 6 to 12 inches high with yellow, pink, white or violet flowers.  The plants should be divided or planted after flowering.  “Epimedium rubrum” is one which spreads well and makes a dense ground cover and its dainty pink flowers are lovely.

We all need allies like this in the battle against weeds.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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