Invasive plants

Answers to Your Questions: How Do I Get Rid of Invasive Lily of the Valley?


Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is invading my lawn and rock garden. Should I have surrounded this plant with a special grass border to prevent this? How can I get rid of it in an environmentally-friendly way?

Photo: Getty Images Signature


Lily of the valley is indeed a difficult plant to control, due to its long underground rhizomes which spread rapidly. There are several ways of eliminating it:

Thorough Excavation

Photo: EduardSV

This technique involves digging up the invaded area to extract all the rhizomes. This method is effective, but demanding, and may require several attempts to completely eliminate the plant, as the remaining rhizome fragments may grow back.

Occultation With Black Plastic Fabric

Source: Amazon

Cover the infested area with black plastic sheeting and leave it in place for at least a year. This method uses the solar heat accumulated under the cloth to eradicate the plants. It is particularly effective in full sun.

Organic Herbicides

Photo: Lukas

Herbicides based on soap or natural acids, such as vinegar or lemon juice, are also available. Although environmentally-friendly, these products only kill foliage and must be applied several times (2 or 3 times) to be effective. It’s important to note that these substances can alter soil pH and affect other plants in the vicinity. In addition, check that they are legal for use as herbicides in your area before application. By reapplying these treatments each time foliage reappears, you will gradually weaken the plant until its underground reserves are exhausted.

It’s essential to use all products with care and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to minimize environmental impact and avoid harming non-target plants. Thrush management can be a lengthy process, requiring patience and perseverance.


To prevent a lily of the valley invasion, plant it in controllable areas, surrounded by deep physical barriers (30 to 40 cm deep) to limit the spread of rhizomes. Monitor the area regularly and act quickly to remove unwanted shoots to prevent their establishment elsewhere. Consider using less invasive varieties. Even if it is not recognized as a harmful exotic invasive plant in your area, lily of the valley can become very invasive and harm local biodiversity and native plants. All parts of the plant are toxic if ingested and should be handled with care, especially in the presence of children or pets.

Photo: Pexels

Larry Hodgson published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings accessible to the public. This text was originally published in Le Soleil newspaper on June 3, 2006.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

3 comments on “Answers to Your Questions: How Do I Get Rid of Invasive Lily of the Valley?

  1. Gee, I would like to get this to survive! I keep hearing about how invasive it is, but have never been able to grow it.

  2. I have never had it in my yard but it is popping up randomly everywhere this spring, including in my raised vegetable beds. I guess it self seeded from somewhere last year but it is rapidly becoming a real pain as I keep spotting it all over my 1/2 acre yard. I think goutweed and Houttuynia cordata (chameleon plant) are worse though. I inherited both of those and have spent years solarizing sections of the garden to try to kill it off.

  3. Suzanne Armstrong

    We had lily of the valley well established when we moved into our house. I thought it was all removed when we had a major excavation for a new shed. Sadly, it has appeared along the fence line and under a large established tree. Probably spraying is my only option now. So frustrating.

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