Parasitic Planters

48,887

108

65

Published

Introduction: Parasitic Planters

When I bought my house, there was and still is a good deal of this invasive species established here called Japanese Knotweed.  It has an appearance like bamboo, but without much structural strength to it.   It's very prolific and tends to shade out other vegetation.  And it grows from a three inch sprout out of the ground into a 7 foot tall plant, seemingly overnight.

I figure, if it's going to be here hogging up the landscape, we might as well put it to work.

This is an experiment, I don't know if it's going to really work yet, but I think it has potential.

First progress photos added: 5/24/13

Okay, so a lot of people are asking: What is the point of this?  Well, it gets plants you want to be growing (instead of the knotweed) up into the sunlight. The problem is that the knotweed blocks out the light from the ground so no other plants can get started. This lets you grow other plants on top of it, sort of defeating its evolutionary advantage.  You're basically using the knotweed to help other plants you prefer to grow get advantageous access to sunlight.  I hope that helps explain it better for those who don't get the point.

Another question people are asking is:  Why don't you just kill the plant?  Well, it's also on the neighbors yard primarily and I think they like it for the privacy screening it provides.  It's not exactly a problem.  Believe me, the real problem is blackberries.  But anyway.  I only knew of its noxious weed status after a visit from the local arborist who kind of freaked out about it.  But If it gets to be a problem, I would probably choose the method suggested by HSLINKS which is to cover it completely in three layers of carpets.  

But the best news is:  this plant is very muchedible!  As pointed out by user Hoopajoo:  


 See also:  http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Knotweed.html
Here's a recipe:  http://www.richmondlandtrust.org/docs/garlic.pdf
And another:  http://eastoneccentric.blogspot.com/2013/05/if-you-cant-beat-it-eat-it-japanese.html

Okay, I tried it raw as described in the video and while I would not call it delicious, it is decidedly lemony and vegetably and a case could be made for sour-apple.  It wasn't entirely unpleasant and I did not get sick or die, so I'm glad to know about one more wild edible in case I'm ever out in the woods and hungry. I think though that the key may be to cook it. I'm going to try that soon. Interestingly, it is also sold in supplement form as a source of resveratrol.

Be careful of course, make sure you know you have the right plant.  There are plants out there with mottled green/red stems which are poisonous such as hemlock

Step 1: Supplies

empty plastic bottles
hot knife
vapor mask
green paint that will adhere to plastic

Step 2: Paint the Bottles Green

Wearing the vapor mask, spray paint the bottles a nice green color to blend in with the knotweed.

Step 3: Make a Window

If the label is willing, you can remove it now to create a little window

Step 4: Invasive Species, Meet Invasive Species

Thread the bottle onto the plant from the top with the mouth of the bottle pointing downwards. 

Fill the bottle with soil and add some seeds.

Depending on sun, weather and shade, water often enough to keep the soil moist.

I had to remove some of the larger stems and leaves to get the bottle on in most cases.  However, this plant is so hardy, that it didn't mind the insult.  As long as you don't crack the main stem, the plant is putting up with it.

These plants are kinda wussy, they will only support one bottle full of soil.  Any more than that and they start to lean over too much.

Work sucks, eh Mr. plant?

Gardening Contest

Runner Up in the
Gardening Contest

Share

    Recommendations

    • Make it Move Contest

      Make it Move Contest
    • Spotless Contest

      Spotless Contest
    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    user

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.

    Tips

    Questions

    65 Comments

    Brilliant! Thank you!

    While I probably won't be doing this project this year (I have a beautiful garden already going at home), I found it really interesting that knotweed is edible. It's growing all over near where I work. I'm going to have to try making recipes with some. Thanks for the info!

    Apart from using no cover for the ground (old newspapers) while spraying the bottles I love everything about your approach! Great work and inspiration!

    1 reply

    Oh... yeah. I guess I didn't really think about it. Thank you!

    They grow out of control in Connecticut as well. I tried all kinds of things ta kill this stuff...Gasoline, Clorox, Mowing as they sprouted, I even went to UCON to find out what this was. I think if it could be used as farm animal feed would be ah good thing as it grows REAL FAST and many crops of the stuff could be had from it.
    I thought it might be akin to Kudzu at one time.

    Cool idea. What part of the country are you located? I've never heard of this invasive species. Another suggestion, to keep the plants from falling over with too much weight as the planted seedlings begin to get bigger is link the invasive plants together like a grid. Sort of like those huge bamboo exoskeletons you see on Asian skyscrapers in China and Hong Kong.

    2 replies

    Washington state. Good ideas thank you

    They grow out of control in Connecticut as well. I tried all kinds of things ta kill this stuff...Gasoline, Clorox, Mowing as they sprouted, I even went to UCON to find out what this was. I think if it could be used as farm animal feed would be ah good thing as it grows REAL FAST and many crops of the stuff could be had from it.
    I thought it might be akin to Kudzu at one time.

    I don't know how much growth you'll get from what you plant but I'm willing to bet the main plant will fill your bottle with roots

    2 replies

    I'm starting to think that might happen. I didn't know about air layering before, but a couple people mentioned it. I may have to think of some kind of a workaround to keep the knotgrass from rooting in the planter.

    You could either use a piece of pvc pipe as an inner sleeve, sealing it to the neck of the bottle, or perhaps wrapping the knotweed tightly with aluminum foil before you slide the bottle down to the section where it will reside.

    They may be edible and nutritious, but I can tell you first-hand they are NOT tasty. They have a lot of oxalic acid in them and are therefore very sour. If you have a good recipe I would be willing to change my mind.

    Cool concept, but I prefer to just mow them down.

    1 reply

    I tried some raw as described in the video and it is decidedly lemony and sour and a case could be made for sour-apple. I think the key may be to cook it. I'm going to try that soon. Interestingly, it is also sold in supplement form for resveratrol.

    Actually, Japanese Knotweed is edible, loaded with vitamin C, and a big part of some Asian diets. Here is a quote from an article and the link to the article:

    "Japanese Knotweed gets no respect. Nearly everywhere it grows it’s listed as a prolific, noxious, invasive, dangerous bad-for-the-world, the-sky-is-falling weed. Oh by the way, it’s edible. Might be even really healthy for you…. pesky weeds have that habit."

    http://www.eattheweeds.com/japanese-knotweed-dreadable-edible/

    Here is a link to a video showing how it can be eaten:

    http://youtu.be/B5-bZzMp8wQ

    4 replies

    This is amazing. I'm surrounded by the stuff. Can't wait to try it! Thanks!

    I had heard something like that but wanted to wait and make sure before I tried it. Thanks for that link! I will feel more confident trying it now.

    No problem! Free food is always win-win when it doubles as weed control.