You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Know your enemy
Special to the Wilson County NewsApril 18, 2012 3,117 views Post a comment
Photos by Judy McCarter
With all the rain and mild temperatures after a record-setting hot and dry year, winter weeds are very prevalent. The lush growth is a problem for gardeners trying to protect their lawns and gardens from the competition. The weeds also threaten to bury the bluebonnets and other wildflowers that prosper best with relatively dry weather. The plants are growing, but not as fast or as large as the weeds.
Most of the weeds described in this column can be prevented by applying a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn in August or September. Contact herbicides, such as Weed B Gon for the broadleaf weeds and Poast or Vantage for the grasses, will kill them but it is probably not worthwhile to apply it now. The winter weeds are rushing to produce seed and will probably successfully mature the seed before the herbicide kills them.
Mark your calendar and apply the pre-emergent herbicide, such as XL, Amaze, or Crabgrass Preventer 2, before they germinate in the autumn. Around Sept. 1 is usually a good target. The pre-emergent will prevent new plants from seeding, but won’t kill existing perennials like day flower or thistle.
The best you can do now is to pull as many as possible by hand and mow or string-mow the rest.
Bedstraw actually was used to stuff mattresses in some pioneer homes. It is an annual weed that grows over the top of the plants near it, including Texas columbine and bluebonnets. It favors shade over sun, but is not fussy. Pull bedstraw with a steel rake or by hand. Huge growing areas of the sticky vine pack together to become dense clumps for the compost pile.
Day flower is the lushest among lots of lush weeds. If you use your string mower on day flower, you can expect to be showered with moist pieces of the plant. In the right place, day flower might qualify as a spring wildflower. The thick green foliage is attractive and the sky blue flowers look good. Unfortunately, the day flower is a tenacious perennial weed that colonizes gardens and shrub borders in our area. It grows to full size in shade, but will grow in sun. The roots of day flower are hard to pull by hand.
Annual and prickly sow thistle are widespread but relatively tame thistle in terms of thorns. The stems are generally upright, but plants tend to be twisty and frumpy when compared to other thistles. The flowers are yellow and not very showy.
Texas thistle (cirsium) is more attractive than sow thistle, with dark green foliage and an upright stem when it is young. The flowers can also be showy. They are lavender. Use gloves to pull this thistle; the thorns are noticeable.
This weed is common in our landscapes and in landscapes all over the continent. The golden, quarter-size blooms emerge on hollow stems from the flat growing foliage. The leaves are about 4 inches long and 3/4 inches wide, with sharp -- but soft -- points on both sides of the leaf. The roots are relatively shallow, but the plants can still be difficult to pull up by hand.
Rescue grass is an exotic plant that was imported to Texas to provide grazing for livestock. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be a successful weed that reseeds itself every spring after a winter of lush growth. Rescue grass can be mowed to make an attractive winter lawn, but it gets very coarse in March as it tries to produce seed. Expect it to decline from the heat and disappear by mid- May.
This is my least favorite winter weed. It appears to have gotten this common name because the individual flowers resemble lice. The worst characteristic, however, is the clingy nature of the seeds. The seeds cling voraciously to pets and clothes. It is recommended that beggar’s lice plants are targeted for removal if you have pets. Beggar’s lice is in the carrot family and is called wild carrot by some gardeners.
Black medic is a lush, clover-like plant that has a small yellow flower. It grows in large clumps in weak lawns or shrub borders. The lush plants are relatively easy to pull up.
Chickweed grows in the same areas as henbit. It is less vine-like than henbit and is harder to pull up from the ground by the root. Chickweed flowers are white and the leaves are light green. The leaves are the size and shape of mouse ears.
Henbit has a vining habit like bedstraw, but does not grow as fast. It is harder to pull from flower beds and vegetable gardens than bedstraw, but is still relatively easy. Henbit has a blue bloom above its round, scalloped leaves. This is another weed that competes with wildflowers.
Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Benefit for animal shelter is Aug. 1 (July 29, 2015)
Cestohowa Altar Society ladies celebrate 60 years of service (July 29, 2015)
Church youth to hold car wash (July 29, 2015)
Don’t miss Kosciusko Picnic this Sunday (July 29, 2015)
Free movie Friday in Poth (July 29, 2015)
Historical marker denotes former school site (July 29, 2015)
Legion Auxiliary garage sale Aug. 1 (July 29, 2015)
Life in the Camp Ranch community (July 29, 2015)
Luciano Pacheco – the sole Tejano survivor of the Alamo (July 29, 2015)
Opry helps fund historical markers (July 29, 2015)
Popeye beach pail (July 29, 2015)
See a free flick in Elmendorf (July 29, 2015)
Stuff the bus in Stockdale (July 29, 2015)
Summer program ends at Falls City library (July 29, 2015)
WCRSP delivers children’s books to schools (July 29, 2015)
Balance classes start July 27 (July 22, 2015)
Be a high roller in Floresville (July 22, 2015)
Bobble-head Bozo (July 22, 2015)
Cool down with free snow cones (July 22, 2015)
Copper-pot craftsmanship — CINCO Vodka (July 22, 2015)
Marion Sausage Supper is Aug. 1 (July 22, 2015)
Mu Chi members attend state convention (July 22, 2015)
Opry lineup is sure to satisfy (July 22, 2015)
Save the date for Kody Fest Aug. 8 (July 22, 2015)
Shop ‘Trinkets and Treasures’ (July 22, 2015)
SSCA seeks donations for rummage sale (July 22, 2015)
Start two-stepping at FUMC (July 22, 2015)
Texas sales-tax holiday (July 22, 2015)
The Landing offers help for teens (July 22, 2015)
What a difference an ‘A’ makes! (July 22, 2015)
Browse, learn, shop at Home and Garden Show (July 15, 2015)
Celebrate Czech Day in Jourdanton (July 15, 2015)
Daughters of the Republic installs officers (July 15, 2015)
Enjoy St. Anthony church fest (July 15, 2015)
Experience ‘The Hobbit’ under the stars (July 15, 2015)
Free Movies at the Park in Poth (July 15, 2015)
Learn to compost with worms (July 15, 2015)
Legion Auxiliary plans garage sale (July 15, 2015)
Library happenings (July 15, 2015)
Mystery blanket sparks search (July 15, 2015)
Night In Old Fredericksburg is July 18 (July 15, 2015)
Plan now for Beaver Roundup (July 15, 2015)
Teddy bears, pottery (July 15, 2015)
The bridges of Wilson County (July 15, 2015)
‘Atomic tourists’ converge on Trinity Site ahead of 70th anniversary (July 15, 2015)
Behind the lens: Cover photo (July 8, 2015)
Bobby Flores Birthday Bash is July 11 (July 8, 2015)
Early settlers of Wilson County (July 8, 2015)
Enjoy ‘Big Hero 6’ at Movie Day (July 8, 2015)
Enjoy ‘Cool Tunes’ in Brenham (July 8, 2015)
Family violence shelter seeks volunteers (July 8, 2015)
Family weekend fun in Adkins (July 8, 2015)
FHS Reunion is July 25 (July 8, 2015)
Fishing lures (July 8, 2015)
Give blood at Sacred Heart Church (July 8, 2015)
Hamilton earns rank of captain (July 8, 2015)
Memorial hog hunt a hit! (July 8, 2015)
Save the date for Home and Garden Show (July 8, 2015)
See comedians in China Grove (July 8, 2015)
‘Alabama’ to invade K-Town (July 8, 2015)
‘Dying’ brings broadcaster back to life (July 8, 2015)
Bible study in Verdi (July 1, 2015)
Buses, pickup trucks, automobiles, and walking (July 1, 2015)
Davy Crockett, Depression glass (July 1, 2015)
Dog shows start July 8 (July 1, 2015)
Enjoy Fourth of July parade, concert in Seguin (July 1, 2015)
Enjoy Sunday Dances all month (July 1, 2015)
Free July 4 concerts in SA (July 1, 2015)
Free music, fireworks in Brenham (July 1, 2015)
Ice cream makers, tasters needed (July 1, 2015)
Jack's Cafe adds Sports Room and patio (July 1, 2015)
July is for grape stomping (July 1, 2015)
Look who's flying solo! (July 1, 2015)
Memories fly following balloon stories (July 1, 2015)
Register for state-wide Chili Cook-off (July 1, 2015)
Remembering my first haircut (July 1, 2015)
Savor: Summer drinks with calories and exercise equivalents (July 1, 2015)
South Texas Gardener reveals 'mystery plants' (July 1, 2015)
The Gathering Music Show (July 1, 2015)