Garlic mustard competition
These are the native plants that are being used to replace garlic mustard.
The procedure with a small patch of garlic mustard is to first pull the garlic mustard plants, focusing on the second year plants, which have the flowers. After a patch is pulled, one or more of the species below described is immediately planted in the bare spot. Garlic mustard is very adaptable and grows in both partly sunny and quite shade areas; different competition plants are used depending on location. For large patches where it's not practical to remove all the garlic mustard, work around the outside of the patch. Remove a ring of plants around the outside and replace with the native plant. The garlic mustard in the middle of the ring should be cut (not pulled) to prevent it from going to seed. For sunny areas, finish by sprinkling some native meadow mix seeds in areas in between the plants. No bare soil!
Packera aurea (golden ragwort)
This lovely pollinator plant would probably be better known if it had a more attractive name. It's a member of the daisy family and is one of the first of the native members to bloom extravagantly in springtime. The bright yellow flowers are highly attractive to bees and are stars in the landscape for several weeks in April. The rest of the year the plant is a great ground cover, green almost all the year in the mid-Atlantic. It spreads vigorously by runners, which makes it good competition for garlic mustard. It also produces lots of seeds, which should be able to spread the plant further. One caution; the leaves are somewhat similar to garlic mustard, so be sure not to pull this plant out in future years when returning to keep after the garlic mustard. While this plant can thrive in sun and shade, we mostly use it in shady areas because we don't have many other garlic mustard candidates for shady spots.
Solidago nemoralis (old field goldenrod)
Like all the goldenrods, this plant has lots of yellow blooms later in the summer. It's a great pollinator plant. This is one of the shorter goldenrods, and it's quite a vigorous one and spreads a lot by runners. While this might cause some problems in a flowerbed, as a competitor for garlic mustard, this is a plus. This plant will do best with as much sun as possible, and it can handle dryer soil than garlic mustard can. We'll try this one in the middle of the slopes. We also plan to try this plant as a competitor for mugwort, another of our problem plants.
Carex sprengelii (long-beaked sedge)
Like most sedges, this plant starts very early--it's a cool-season plant. This is an advantage when competing with garlic mustard, which also starts very early. As a grass-like plant, long-beaked sedge doesn't have flowers for butterflies or bees, but it is food for caterpillars of some butterflies. The seeds it makes are relished by a variety of birds. Like all sedges, this one will appreciate moisture, but it can tolerate some dryness. If this is planted at the top of slopes, it will work its way down the slope over a period of several years, spreading by runners as well as by seeds. It's a great plant for holding slopes and a good candidate to compete with garlic mustard. This plant can be nice in the right domestic situation too. It's very low-maintenance; the leaves kind of melt away over the winter so no cutting back is required!