(Soleiroliasoleirolii) Mind-your-own-business is grown as a houseplant, but outdoors it can easily get out of control and become a troublesome weed – especially when growing in the lawn.
What is mind-your-own-business?
Mind-your-own-business is also sometimes commonly called baby’s tears – although it’s more than babies that shed a tear when it becomes established and out of control in the garden!
Being an evergreen, it is commonly grown as a houseplant and even planted outside as a mat-forming, ground cover plant. But it grows quickly and, left to its own devices, can easily get out of control and become a troublesome weed. This is especially true when it grows in the lawn, where it can become very difficult to control.
Despite its attractive looks when used as a ground cover, in rockeries, dry-stone walls, as a path between paving slabs or in cracks in paving, its rapid growth means it has to be carefully monitored to prevent it becoming a weed. If this isn’t possible, then it’s not worth taking the risk of planting it outdoors.
Mind-your-own-business roots along its stems as it grows and can quickly and easily re-grow from the smallest pieces of stem, rapidly colonising large areas of the garden.
Where does it grow?
- Gravel paths
- Between paving slabs
- Waste or uncultivated ground
Mind-your-own-business grows no taller than 5cm (2in) high, but forms dense mats of spreading stems clothed with tiny bright green leaves that can spread indefinitely. It may produce minute white flowers in summer.
How to control mind-your-own-business
As with most perennial weeds, never allow mind-your-own-business to grow and become established where you don’t want it. This will make it more difficult, and more time consuming, to fully control. Early identification and eradication is important to stop it taking over the garden.
Digging out the plants is a laborious and time-consuming task, as the stems root wherever they come into contact with the soil, forming quite extensive mats of foliage. Any pieces of stem left in the soil will re-grow into a new plant.
Regularly hoeing plants as soon as you see them is a relatively quick and easy method of control. The aim of hoeing is to sever the stems at or just below ground level, cutting the top growth from its roots. A sharp hoe blade will make this even quicker and easier, so always sharpen the hoe blade before using it. Hoeing on a warm and/or windy day will mean plants quickly dehydrate and die.
Flame guns and weeders that use an electric current are also effective in some locations.
Covering bare soil with weed-control membrane (landscape fabric) or even thick black polythene will exclude light and prevent seeds germinating. As will mulching the soil with organic matter, such as a bark mulch. For mulches to work properly, they need to be a minimum of 5cm (2in) thick, but 7.5cm (3in) deep works better.
In lawns, mind-your-own-business is very difficult to dig out, especially once it has started spreading, but it should be possible to remove it with a trowel or hand fork.
Regularly feeding the lawn will help the grass grow stronger and help it out-compete the mind-your-own-business plants. Raking it before mowing may help raise the stems up to the mower blade, and scarifying it in spring and autumn may also help weaken it.
There are a number of weed control options available to treat mind-your-own-business. In addition to traditional weedkillers there are now also a range of more natural alternatives.
Most weedkillers can be used to control mind-your-own-business in beds, borders, waste ground and on paths. Those marketed as “fast acting” are contact weedkillers – killing or damaging the plant tissue they are sprayed onto or make contact with. These tend to be based on “naturally-occurring” active ingredients, such as acetic acid and natural fatty acids.
Systemic weedkillers that also kill the roots can also be used and are much more effective at completely killing mind-your-own-business.
To ensure the weedkiller works effectively:
- Spray the leaves when mind-your-own-business is growing actively; this is mainly from March/April to September/October. Contact weedkillers will have some effect if used during the colder weather in winter.
- The larger the leaf area present, the greater the amount of weedkiller that can be absorbed.
- Use a very fine spray to thoroughly coat the leaves in small droplets.
- During the summer, spray in the evening to prevent the spray evaporating and to give maximum time for the spray to be absorbed. In spring or if overnight dew is forecast, spray earlier in the day to allow the spray to dry before dew falls.
Most contact weedkillers are total weedkillers – that is they will damage or kill any plants whose leaves they are sprayed on. Make sure you keep the spray off wanted plants – including lawns – and, if necessary protect plants by covering with polythene or similar when spraying.
In lawns, lawn weedkillers may have little or no effect on controlling mind-your-own-business. The use of lawn sand to control lawn moss may also have some controlling effect on mind-your-own-business.
Use weedkillers safely. Always read the label and product information before use.
Don’t add mind-your-own-business to the compost heap, unless you can ensure a high enough temperature to completely kill it. Otherwise, you’ll simply spread it all over the garden wherever you use the compost.
- Hand fork
- Weeding tools
- Weed-control membrane
- Lawn weedkillers