xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Garden Q&A: Pickerelweed and Asian jumping worms

Pickerelweed is a native perennial wildflower that grows in water and attracts butterflies and other wildlife.
Pickerelweed is a native perennial wildflower that grows in water and attracts butterflies and other wildlife. (Ellen Nibali/For The Baltimore Sun)

These flowers were a hotbed of butterflies this summer. They grow on the edge of a pond. Can I plant them in my yard?

Pickerelweed is a native perennial wildflower classified as emergent, meaning it wants its feet in water. In wetlands, it favors a depth of about 12″, which can vary but should not cover its leaves. Bloom-time extends as long as June to November, depending upon your location in Maryland.

Advertisement

Besides butterflies, it provides food for waterfowl, small mammals, as well as beneficial insects. Reaching 3 feet tall, pickerelweed grows happily — even rambunctiously — in containers or water gardens, so consider trying that. Soil can be sandy, loamy or clayey.

Just visited a very concerned neighbor who is finding loads of worms in leaf litter. They slither when exposed but not certain if they are the invasive new ‘Jumping Worm’ that destroys soil and is found in the upper layer of soil or mulch. Please advise on identification and any measures to take to eliminate them.

Advertisement

Thank you for keeping an eye out for invasive species. Asian jumping worms don’t improve, but rather degrade, soil making it difficult-to-impossible for plants to grow in it. They leave soil looking like coffee grounds.

Asian jumping worms were first recorded in Baltimore in the 1930′s, so they aren’t altogether new, but careless disposal of fishing bait worms and sharing/moving plants with infested soil attached spreads them.

They do not spread quickly on their own, so identifying them and stopping spread is important. Look at the band (clitellum) on a suspect worm. On a nightcrawler, it will be raised and not extend all the way around. On a jumping worm, it is lighter colored, flush with the body, and entirely encircles the worm.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is not currently regulating or tracking Asian jumping worms. Penn State and Cornell have jumping worm fact sheets online, including tactics to flush them out and eradicate them.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement