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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

Controlling trumpet vine, nutsedge and hitchhiking pests

Trumpet vine in an extremely aggressive climbing plant

Trumpet vine in an extremely aggressive climbing plant that's difficult to remove. Photo Credit: Erica Azzara

DEAR JESSICA: We had a tree in our backyard that my home’s previous owner planted. My husband cut it down earlier this year. The problem is it’s still sprouting through the ground, even after my husband removed whatever roots he was able to find. They’re sprouting through the deck, the grass and our herb garden! We can pull each sprout out with relative ease, but they’re everywhere! I can’t keep doing this for the rest of my life. How can we get rid of it once and for all?

— Erica Azzara,

Massapequa

DEAR ERICA: That’s actually not a tree; it’s trumpet vine, an extremely aggressive and somewhat invasive (in our zone 7) climbing plant. Although it can be bad here, it’s even more invasive in the South.

In your photo, it appears as if some of the root system might be on the other side of the fence, so I think it might be possible you didn’t dig up the whole root system. But even if you had, this plant is notorious for sending up sprouts along its running roots.

It doesn’t appear you have very much planted in the immediate area around it, so you may find success with spraying glyphosate (Roundup) on sprouts as they shoot up. Better if you break the stems first to create a point of entry for the chemical so it can work its way down directly to the roots. Be careful because the product will also kill all other plants it contacts, including grass.

This will take some time — a couple of years, perhaps — but stick with it.

DEAR JESSICA: I will be bringing a Stellar geranium in the house for the winter. What will I have to do to make sure I do not bring in any pests that may destroy my other houseplants?— Diana White, Mastic Beach

DEAR DIANA: The best way to avoid bringing hitchhiking pests into your home when moving vacationing houseplants back indoors is to give them a bath.

Rinse the plant thoroughly — including under all the leaves — with a gentle stream of water, or by submerging in a sink or tub. That should suffice as a preventive measure.

If, however, the plant is infested, you’ll need to up the ante: Remove the plant from its pot and gently shake loose the soil from the roots. Rinse the entire plant, including roots, in water, thoroughly wash the pot with a 90/10 bleach solution (and rinse), then replant in fresh potting soil.

DEAR JESSICA: Help! My once beautiful lawn is being overtaken by nutsedge. I have been unable to buy a weed killer for this problem since it is not legal in New York. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can get rid of this problem?

— Richard Frank,

via email

DEAR RICHARD: Most herbicides, even pre-emergent ones, cannot eradicate any of the nutsedge weeds. Yellow nutsedge has even earned a listing in “The World’s Worst Weeds: Distribution and Biology” (Krieger Publishing, 1991).

It is considered a noxious weed in more than 100 countries, spreading via seeds, tubers and rhizomes. Each plant can produce hundreds — even thousands — of tubers in one season, some of which can remain dormant in soil for up to 50 years, according to a Cornell Cooperative Extension horticultural fact sheet. And it’s even more prolific after a wet spring.

There is one selective herbicide, called SedgeHammer, that is legal in New York state and will help kill the weed without harming the grass. However, you should hire a landscaper who is a certified pesticide applicator to handle the job.

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