Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2001

Stopping seeds key to control of these weeds

April 15, 2001


Flowers are starting to bloom, seemingly dead plants are coming back to life and allergies continue to go wild.

At my home, everything about spring is welcome but the drippy nose and the winter annual weeds henbit and chickweed. Unfortunately, I cannot do much about the allergies. However, I can help with the weeds.

If you have these two pesky weeds in the lawn, garden or flower bed, here are some suggestions to help clean them up.

Henbit is a rather showy spring-blooming weed. The violet flowers, born on stems 8 inches to 12 inches tall, are quite striking on a warm April day. They are commonly found in cultivated areas such as farm fields, flower beds, gardens and lawns.

Chickweed, on the other hand, has a lower growth habit with creamy yellow blooms. Mix the two plants together and you can create a beautiful spring display with little effort. Keep in mind that, as with most weeds, they can be invasive and easily take over if left unattended.

Because both weeds are self-seeding, the plants that were there last year are not the same plants that we see right now. They are, however, plants that sprouted from the seeds that were dropped a year ago.

The seeds actually started to germinate last September, continued to grow all winter and are blooming right now. Once they have bloomed and set seed, the plants will die and the seeds will be left to start the process over this fall.

Controlling these two weeds can be simple if you act now. Start with mechanical controls. Hoe or lightly till weeds in the garden and around flowers, trees and shrubs.

If henbit and chickweed flowers are not allowed to mature, seed will not be dropped for weeds to start this fall. In the lawn area, mow low and catch the clippings to prevent seed dispersal and reduce the amount of future weeds.

For hard-to-reach or noncultivated areas, the broadleaf weed killer Trimec is the best product to use. Spray on a sunny day when the temperature is above 55 degrees.

When using Trimec, do not spray newly sprouted grass seed or other emerging plants. Trimec contains 2-4D, a weed killer that can severely damage many landscape trees and shrubs.

Spring is making a glorious debut despite the wind and rain. Likewise, many of the undesirable weeds are tagging along and taking advantage of the nice weather.

When it comes to henbit and chickweed, use mechanical controls for easy-to-reach areas and chemical controls for hard-to-reach or noncultivated areas. As always, read and follow all safety directions when spraying any chemical product.

Bruce Chladny is horticulture agent at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County. For more gardening information call the Master Gardener Hotline, 843-7058, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

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