corn gluten for creeping charlie

Asked March 31, 2017, 1:35 PM EDT

Hello -- We live in St. Paul, and creeping charlie flourishes in our lawn and garden beds (veggie/perennials/shrubs). For years I've treated with corn gluten in Spring and Fall, but think my timing has been off for maximum effect to eradicate or at least weaken the creeping charlie. Can you clarify -- is creeping charlie a BROADLEAF weed? (Corn gluten should be effective, right?) Also -- Can you please guide on best TIMING to apply to weaken creeping charlie? (i.e. wait til it flowers, or just when I start seeing it leaf out, like now!). If it will, in fact, will not help kill the creeping charlie, when should I put it down for general health benefits to the lawn and garden, as I don't care to use chemicals? Finally -- what RATE should apply the corn gluten for max effect? PS- if I am tempted to use small amount of CHEMICAL on just the charlie, sounds like it's best to use broadleaf herbicide that contains the chemical triclopyr or dicamba. Your thoughts? Of course, I pull it out and snuff it out w/ cardboard technique when and where I can, but it's so intermingled throughout all the yard, it's tough. THANKS SO MUCH!

Ramsey County Minnesota

1 Response

Thank you for the question. Yes, creeping Charlie is a broadleaf weed but you can't control it with corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal, when used regularly over several years can be somewhat effective as a pre emergent herbicide on some weeds and provides a slow released amount of nitrogen to the soil. It's not a bad product, it's just that this type of herbicide that prevents weeds from germinating isn't considered effective for creeping charlie. Here is what Bob Mugaas, Retired University of Minnesota Extension Educator has written about this very tenacious weed: For creeping Charlie, second to fall treatment, spring time, at or during full bloom, is a very good time to apply postemergence herbicides to control this common lawn weed. However, rather than just simply reaching for an herbicide to kill the plant, stop and consider for a moment as to why this weed seems to be getting worse or expanding in your lawn. Creeping Charlie does best in a moist, partly shaded to fully shaded environment. As shade increases it becomes less and less favorable for sustaining a turfgrass cover and more and more favorable for weeds like creeping Charlie to encroach and take over. It might be that doing some pruning or other practices to get more light to the soil surface will improve growing conditions such that turfgrass can survive and thrive there. Then, if creeping Charlie is controlled with an herbicide you can come back and overseed with a shady lawn mix and expect it to be more competitive and vigorous thus helping to keep creeping Charlie from reestablishing. If the area is simply too shady to grow turfgrass, why fight it, consider other ground covers or a shade garden of perennial flowers. They are not necessarily less work than a lawn, but can provide a very attractive area in the landscape. If you are considering the use of an herbicide for controlling creeping Charlie, select one that contains the active ingredient triclopyr. Research has shown that the addition of this product to a broadleaf herbicide is more effective than those not containing it. You can even purchase products where triclopyr is the only ingredient. They are usually sold as a weed control products specifically for creeping Charlie, white clover, oxalis and other difficult weeds.
You will have to make your own decision on whether to use chemicals or not. If you decide to use an herbicide, please read and follow all label directions to the letter.
Corn gluten meal is an excellent slow release fertilizer for your lawn, however, best results are often achieved by a combinatio n of slow and fast release fertilizers. How much and when to apply depends on whether you irrigate your lawn and leave or remove grass clippings. This publication will outline the fertilizer program for you:

Thank you for contacting Extension.