Although it has extremely vigorous growth and invasive tendencies, bishop’s weed is useful in the right setting. If you are looking for an easy-to-grow groundcover to quickly fill a confined space, consider this plant. Its attractive light green foliage edged in cream looks nice all season long in part shade to full shade. Airy panicles of white blooms emerge above the foliage in summer.
Worth the Risk?
Bishop's weed, as you might guess by the name, is a plant gardeners love to hate (after all they named it a weed). When introduced in the eastern United States as an ornamental plant, people loved its ease of growth and vigor. It helped that the plant had attractive foliage. Because it is extremely easy to share as a simple division or clipping from the garden, it became a common pass-along plant and quickly made its way into ornamental gardens. Eventually, people realized the mistake: Once planted, it can be nearly impossible to eradicate. The vigorous growth habit, coupled with its quick regeneration and copious seed production, make this plant a beast to control. For these reasons, it is important to think long and hard before planting bishop's weed. Even then, it should only be planted in confined areas like between a sidewalk and a house where it has solid physical boundaries.
Bishop's Weed Care Must-Knows
As the name implies, bishop's weed is an extremely easy plant to grow, even in harsh conditions. Ideally, it likes consistently moist, well-drained soil, although it can take some drought. During long dry spells, the foliage, especially of variegated species, tends to crisp and burn.
For the best-looking foliage, plant it in part sun. This ensures that the plants get enough light to have nice variegation but also protects them from burning on the sensitive leaves. Its vigorous nature means it grows fine in full shade or even full sun.
If your plants begin to look a little ragged, mow them back to encourage a new flush of growth. It's also a good idea to remove any seed heads after blooming to control spreading. Other than leaf blight in the heat and drought of the summer, these plants are fairly untouched by pests and disease.
Generally speaking, gardeners end up more concerned about removing the plant. Much easier said than done: You must dig up the underground rhizomes without leaving even the smallest piece behind.
Manual removal of the plants is tedious and may need to be repeated until all of the plants are removed. They also are tough enough to survive several applications of harsh herbicides.
The best method of eradicaization is solarization: Cut back the plants and cover the bed with black plastic for a whole growing season to block out any sunlight and heat the soil to high temperatures.
Plant Bishop's Weed With:
Seldom grown 40 years ago, they are now one of the most commonly grown garden plants. For good reason. Hostas are among the easiest plants to grow as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall. Hostas vary from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to 4-foot clumps with heart-shape leaves almost 2 feet long that can be puckered, wavy-edged, white or green variegated, blue-gray, chartreuse, emerald-edged—the variations seem endless. Hostas in new sizes and foliage features seem to appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plaintain lily, blooms with white or purplish lavender funnel-shape or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slug and deer.
Tall and elegant, these ferns look great during the spring and summer thanks to their fronds and in fall and winter when their upright reproductive fronds stand in the snow. They are excellent in damp soils and look at home beside ponds and streams. They may colonize large areas.
A North American native, fothergilla deserves a place in every shade garden for its honey-sweet brushy blooms, fiery fall foliage, and open, airy habit. The tangled branch structure intrigues in winter landscapes. Easy to care for, fothergilla requires no pruning. The leathery leaves have lighter undersides and turn shades of red, orange, and bright yellow in fall.