Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

Stop weeds while they are still seeds

September 16, 2001


Weeds are a regular part of any lawn or landscape. With foxtail and crabgrass two of the most common weeds found this summer, it is now time to turn our attention to cool-season weeds.

Henbit and chickweed are two weeds most of us do not think about until we see them blooming in spring. Chances are, however, that both of these weeds are growing in yards, gardens or flower beds right now.

These are considered self-seeding winter annual weeds. The seeds from last spring's flowers are beginning to germinate and grow this fall.

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 March day. They are commonly found in cultivated areas such as farm fields, flower beds, gardens and in the lawn.

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. But 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 will not be the same plants that we see this year. They are, however, plants that sprout from the seeds that were dropped earlier this spring.

The seeds have started to germinate and will continue to grow all winter long. As the days get longer and the temperatures rise next spring, both will bloom and start the process over.

Now is a good time to control henbit or chickweed for next spring. Here are a few tips.

Start with mechanical controls. Hoe or lightly till bare soil in the garden and around flowers, trees and shrubs. For added control, apply a fresh layer of mulch 2 inches to 3 inches should be enough.

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

Avoid spraying newly sprouted grass seed as dieback may occur. Likewise, avoid spraying desirable trees and shrubs. As always, read and follow all label directions.

Bruce Chladny is horticulture agent at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County. For more information, call him at 843-7058 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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