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Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish bluebells): least favorite invasive species

The innocuous looking Hyacinthoides hispanica grows everywhere around here. They are in bloom right now, and I’ll admit that they have pretty flowers. But I still hate them. They are quite invasive here in Portland, and hellishly impossible to get rid of. If torturing the zillions of new baby bulbs we get every year in front of the grown plants would make them stop trying to take over the yard, I’d do it.

Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish bluebells), an annoying invasive plant

I first noticed these “beauties” in 2009; our neighbors had them, and we had a few as well. That year I didn’t do much gardening until later spring due to having a broken foot, so they were a mere blip on the garden radar. That fall, we planted numerous tulips in the part of the yard with the bluebells, and in spring 2010, there were more bluebells, but they made for a nice show with the tulips. It was last year when I finally realized that something was terribly wrong. The bluebells had increased at least ten-fold in number, and they were coming up in parts of the yard that were quite distant from the initial (what I now realize was an) infestation.

Some Internet research revealed the unhappy truth: these bastard flowers spread both by bulb and by seed from their blooms. People with bad infestations consider doing drastic things like sifting their garden soil to get rid of the nascent bulbs, or simply carpet-bombing with Round-up. At this point, I’m good with irradiation.

I have pulled these things until I couldn’t even close my hands. The stems tend to break easily, leaving the bulbs to multiply in the ground. If you cut them down to the ground early (which I tried this year) they still send up flowers. They will outcompete tulips and other desirable plants, and it doesn’t take too much suspension of disbelief to imagine them as the villain in a fairy tale, stabbing their way up through a napping princess and cackling maniacally.

If you find this plant in your yard, oh Portland neighbors, do not pause to admire it. Recognize it for the enemy it is and attack it with fury. And please, for the love, do not deliberately buy and plant this thing. PLEASE!

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