Dealing with Bishop's Weed
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated November 29, 2021)
If you didn't know what it was, when you looked at some Bishop's Weed (also known as Gout Weed, or Snow on the Mountain) you would think that you had a beautiful low ground cover that can add a nice touch to your garden. However, there is one major problem with Bishop's Weed, and that is it is exceptionally aggressive. Almost without question, once a gardener has planted some, they begin to look around for some way to begin dealing with Bishop's Weed. Because it is such a ruthless killer of native plants, and can easily spread from your garden to the wild, learning how to deal with this plant is a must if you ever come across it, or even think about planting it.
- Recognize the plant. In order to begin dealing with Bishop's Weed, you need to first be able to recognize the plant. The leaves of the plant are a pretty, light colored green that have white colored edges. In shape, the leaves are variegated, but generally triangular. As the plant matures, there will be some small white flowers that appear, which look something along the lines of Baby's Breath, but only more clustered and well defined.
- Identify prime locations. Unlike with other kinds of plants, there is really no one area that Bishop's Weed prefers to others. This is part of what makes the plant so dangerous in or around the garden. These plants will grow with very little care, and are exceptionally forgiving. So, simply put, if they get in to your garden you can expect to find them everywhere pretty soon.
- The roots are key. As with most plants, the key to dealing with Bishop's Weed is the roots. The roots of this plant are long skinny bulbs that look something like tubers. These roots are the main cause for the spreading of the plant, and they will generally grow only in the top four inches of the soil. Any chance of dealing with Bishop's Weed is going to require that you dig out the roots of the plant. In fact, if you have the money to do it, the best way to deal with these tenacious plants would be to remove the top four inches of your yard, and replace it completely.
- Organic methods. An organic method for dealing with Bishop's Weed is to kill off the plant by depriving it of sunlight and moisture for an entire growing season. Cover the bed that contains the plant with a heavy black tarp during the late winter. Then, leave that tarp in place for a minimum of six months to a year. This will kill every plant that is under the tarp (including the Bishop's Weed) so you should have no problem getting rid of that particular patch. Keep an eye on the area throughout the year to ensure that the plant does not spread at all.
- Chemical methods. If you feel the need to use chemicals to deal with Bishop's Weed, then you need to choose a specific type. Do not choose a defoliating chemical, since that will only kill the leaves and not harm the roots at all. Instead, choose an herbicide that targets the roots. Specifically, you should choose an herbicide that has an ingredient called Glyphosate. This ingredient interacts with the plants, and interrupts the process of photosynthesis, and kills the plant at the roots.