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How To Grow Creeping Charlie?

creeping charlie

Creeping Charlie, scientifically named Glechoma hederacea, made its way around the world thanks to European settlers carrying it with them to new places. Like all popular plants, this one also has many names, including Creeping Jenny, Field Balm, Catsfoot, and Run-Away-Robin.

Although Creeping Charlie can be used in many salads and has even been used for thousands of years to treat many illnesses and dysfunctions of the human body, this plant is an invasive species above all. If you find this particular plant in your garden, removing it will be slightly uncomfortable.

Ground-ivy can be recognized thanks to its kidney-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. The leaves are four-sided, meaning they are opposite each other, forming a square shape. Spotting this plant in the spring will make identification even more effortless, as it’s then when its purplish funnel-shaped flowers appear.

The leaves are bright green and covered by thousands of little hairs, making them a little soft to the touch. The surface runners of this particular plant can grow to be up to 3.3 feet (1 meter), and the ground covering part of the plant can get to a height of 1 foot (30 centimeters).

Ground-ivy produces a scent considered unpleasant. The scent can resemble cross between sage and mint. The Ground-ivy is in leaf all year round and its growing season is from March to May, which is when they flower.

How To Grow?

The maximum recommended USDA zone would be 10b. The ideal temperatures for Ground-ivy would be anywhere between 65 – 80 °F (18 – 26°C). This plant is tough and can survive extreme heats up to 105°F (40.5°C) and colds at 15°F (-9.4°C). The best choice would be to plant this Ground-ivy under a tree or along the north side of the building where it is shady and moist. During the summer Ground-ivy can become dormant.

Creeping Charlie blooming Source: Sue Thompson

Watering

Because Creeping Charlie prefers moist soil it should be watered at least once a week, twice a week if needed. In their early growing stages, you need to water the plant every day for two weeks. If the leaves start turning yellow then cut back on watering.

You can also confirm its need for water by seeing if the top inch of the plant’s soil is dry. Do not let the soil dry out. The perfect humidity levels for this plant would be between 40 and 60 percent. To increase humidity levels indoors you can leave the plant near open windows. In the case of a dry environment, you can also mist the plant to help with its humidity needs. 

Toxicity

The Creeping Charlie can be harmful to Horses and dogs when consumed. If a dog were to consume said plant it  can cause stomach problems and vomiting, as well as heart problems. 

Light

Creeping Charlie prefers shade but can grow well in the sun as well. It requires semi-shade or filtered light. These needs can be simply met in any home, extra equipment most likely will not be needed. To be precise, Ground-ivy needs between 2,500 to 10,000 units of illuminance. Too much direct light, however, can cause the plant to get sunburned. 

Soil & Fertilizer

This particular ivy doesn’t tolerate very saline or acidic soils. The best soil for it would be heavy, damp, fertile, and calcareous. The soil’s pH level for this plant should be between 5.5 and 7.5, meaning slightly acidic and alkaline. The plant can also grow in heavy clay soil. The soil chosen for this plant has to be well-draining. 

Because Creeping Charlie is a fast-growing plant it can eat up all the nutrients in the soil quickly. This is where feeding with organic fertilizer or compost can help. This should be done every two months, more often during hot summer weather and growing season. 

Ground Ivy can be invasive

If ground ivy is taking over your garden, you should check out our other article on how to get rid of it.

Propagation

The easiest way is to use cuttings:

  • Use clean scissors or a knife;
  • Cut off a cutting from the plants with at least two leaves attached to it;
  • Cut the stem right under the node;
  • Lay the cutting on appropriate soil;
  • Cover said cutting with little bits of soil or a small rock to keep it in place and touch with the soil;
  • Keep the cutting covered until new roots form;
  • In one or two weeks the cutting should have grown new roots;
  • Water every day until roots take place in the soil;

The best time for propagation would be spring or autumn. 

Glechoma hederacea
Glechoma hederacea Source: Frank Mayfield

Repotting

Ground-ivy should be repotted once a year or when you notice the plant double in size. Once the plant is older and more consistent in its growing phases it can be repotted every two or three years.

Creeping Charlie can not bear being root-bound so repotting is a way to help prevent or care for it better. If you notice the roots growing out of the pot drainage holes or if the roots start circling inside the pot, having nowhere to expand, it is root-bound.

Routine checks, by gently raising the plant from its pot, are recommended. If the soil comes out of the pot with the roots it is root-bound. To repot your Creeping Charlie gently remove it from its previous pot, acquire a new pot two inches larger than the previous one, add the recommended soil to the bottom, place the plant into the pot, and add the rest of the soil.

Make sure the new pot has drainage holes. After adding the last of the soil pat it down around the plant. Once done repotting make sure to water regularly to help the plant settle into the new pot. 

Pruning

Pruning should be done when there is a need to remove diseased or infected parts of the plant. Pruning can also be used to contain and keep the plant looking exactly the way you wish it to look.

When pruning make sure to use sharp and clean sheers, scissors, or a knife. You can trim back parts of the plant to keep it more compact. The absolute best time for pruning would be during its growing season (March-May). 

Diseases & Pests

Because this Ground-ivy is invasive and hard to get rid of it has no known diseases or threatening insects it would attract. However, you may come across root rot, mildew, or mold. All caused by overwatering.

While this plant thrives in a damp environment it is important to make sure not to overwater said plant. To treat these diseases you must remove all diseased and affected leaves and flowers. Repotting into new fresh soil may also help. In small cases, like a few brown spots, there is no need to treat the disease.

On some rare occasions, you might have to deal with leaf beetles. These insects need to be removed by hand or washed off with a water and insecticide solution. 

Possible Health Benefits

Ground-ivy has been used in alternative medicine for a long time. Creeping Charlie are thought to be anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic. It may help cure colds, and flues, and even help prevent cancer. However, there are no scientific evidence for these claims.

Final Thoughts

Ground-ivy is easy to grow and maintain as it is quite weedy. Creeping Charlie can be used to replace thyme and many other mint-resembling plants in salads and other foods. You can grow it indoors in a pot or out in a garden, helping make the atmosphere more forest-like. To get your hands on this plant you can find its seeds in any gardening store or look for it in the forest and bring a cutting with you. 

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