Join the RHS today and support our charitable work
Free personalised gardening advice
RHS members get reduced ticket prices
RHS members get free access to RHS Gardens
Free entry to RHS members at selected times »
Reduced prices on RHS Garden courses and workshops
020 3176 5800
Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm
Help us achieve our goals
Join the RHS today and support our charity
Lords-and-ladies (Arum maculatum) with its bright autumn berries, is a valuable perennial for shady borders, but its tendency to self-seed means it can quickly become a nuisance.
The flowers of Arum maculatum
Lords-and-ladies is a shade-loving tuberous perennial, native to UK woodlands and hedgerows, which can often become established in gardens. Self-seeding readily, it can quickly take over a border under the right conditions and is difficult to control.
The related Italian arum (A. italicum) and its forms, with marbled white-veined leaves, can also become a problem in gardens. Grown widely as attractive ground-cover, it too can overtake borders in favourable conditions. Control in the same way as for lords-and-ladies.
A white tuberous rhizome throws up large arrow-shaped and commonly black-spotted leaves to 45cm in spring.
The flowers, which appear in April and May, are borne at the base of a cylindrical structure called a spadix which is enveloped by a green to purple-tinged membranous hood called a spathe. The flowers are followed in autumn by a conspicuous spike of orange-red berries.
All parts of the plant are poisonous.
Plants can spread quickly by self-seeding and the unintentional distribution of rhizome fragments around the garden, for example in home compost. The deep rooting tubers multiply each year and are difficult to remove entirely, with fragments left behind in the soil regenerating quickly.
Tackling large infestations of lords-and-ladies in a well-planted bed can be difficult. To get rid of it completely requires time and patience. Try the following non-chemical approaches:
There is little recorded data on the chemical susceptibility of this weed but success might be had by applying SBK Brushwood Killer in spring when there is an abundance of leafy growth.
A systemic glyphosate-based herbicide (Round-up Ultra,Doff Glyphosate Weedkiller or SBM Job done General Purpose Weedkiller) would also likely be effective, but several applications may be needed. To improve the uptake of glyphosate, bruise weed foliage with the back of a spade or by treading before treatment.
Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Weedkillers for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining weedkillers available to gardeners; see sections 1a and 4)
Chemicals: using spot and broad-scale weedkillers
Chemicals: using a sprayer
Chemicals: using safely and effectively
Weeds: non-chemical control
Bluebells as weeds
Garden thugs: potential nuisance plants
Ivy on trees and as a ground cover weed
Wild garlic and crow garlic
the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9
RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.
We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.