Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Worst Weeds for Worst Weed Wednesday!

So what is a weed? By nearly every gardener's definition a weed is simply a plant in the wrong place. It could be a flower that self-seeded in an unwanted location but that's not what most people really consider a problem plant, and true weeds are problem plants. So for Worst Weed Wednesday here are several plants from my gardens that I consider to be true weeds!

From the least-dangerous-but-most-annoying list is Johnson Grass or (Sorghum halepense). This rhizomatic grass spreads like crazy and grows to heights over 5 feet tall. To say that it grows fast is to say that lightning might sting a little. I've pulled it from every garden but where it is the most annoying is when it seeds itself underneath another plant like my Russian sages or among my hemlocks. It's easy to pull up but you have to get all the roots in order to completely be sure it won't be back and that is a challenge. Herbicides work but I try to avoid chemicals in the garden.


The next weed that vexes me and my garden is ragweed (Ambrosia artemissiifolia). I don't have any real allergy problems but this weed grows like, well, a weed! If a seed hits the ground a new plant will be found. Once ragweed starts to grow it begins to crowd out the grass and other plants that surround it and when it is removed it leaves a bare spot. Of course if you know ragweed it gets worse. It's the plant behind hay fever which is caused by ragweed pollen floating over the wind. It even points a finger at goldenrod (Solidago) who gets blamed for it all when it blooms in the fall. Poor solidago, such a beautiful plant maligned!

The last of my weedy triumvirate is horse nettle (Solanum carolinense)!



If you have ever tried to pull it without gloves on (or sometimes even with) you have no doubt noticed a dangerous surprise. All long its stem are sharp prickly thorns well suited to protect itself from the errant hand of the gardener. It self seeds everywhere but in the first couple days of growth it doesn't have any thorns and pops up easily when pulled. If you let it go or you don't notice it for a few days longer grab the nettle at the base of the plant where there are very few thorns and pull (make sure you are wearing gloves!)

Did I mention that it's toxic? It's also a native to the U.S., I guess we can't blame someone else for this weed!

Thanks for joining me on Worst Weed Wednesday! So what's your worst weed?

8 comments :

  1. Malva neglecta! Just did battle with a small stand of it on a project in Santa Fe, NM; looks so innocent, but that taproot means it absolutely does NOT go quietly!

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  2. I don't have to deal with Johnson grass here, thank goodness, but I can definitely sympathize with you about the other two! My Worst Weed post is up now at Hayefield.

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  3. I have the last two weeds but not the first. Probably because I don't have much sun here. I never knew that second weed was ragweed and I pull it all the time. lol Now I know! I've pulled the last one barehanded when small, not when large. It is so hard to eradicate that one as its roots run deep it seems.

    My worst weed is poison ivy of course. I posted about it a few weeks ago so I hope you don't mind me linking to it in today's post. That's what I did. Have a good day!! All this rain is great but I'd like to see the sun one day too.

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  4. I have loads of Smartweed, not sure if it is Polygonum pensylvanicum (an annual) or Polygonum coccineum (a perennial) and the other weed that is driving me crazy right now is Carpet weed -Mollugo verticillata. tis weed season for sure.
    We had Johnson grass in Texas...makes you crazy!!

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  5. Although my bloomday/weed day post mentioned nice weeds, the worst weed here is violets. Nothing stops them. If the plants are large, like the daylilies they are not a problem. But low growers, like the dianthus are nearly impossible to rid of it. Insidious they are.
    Frances

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  6. I'd have to say my worst weeds right now are a brown oxalis with yellow flowers which is spreading everywhere and buttercup which is trying to take over the grass.
    Those prickly weeds are bad since you need to find gloves before you can pull them.

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  7. I've posted about my worst weed, which I must admit seems pretty lame compared to yours. I'm very allergic to ragweed, so it's little consolation that the rotten stuff is native. Sniff, sniff...
    my Worst Weed post

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  8. I just saw the link from Tina's blog, which is too bad because I know this is one contest I could have won hands down:) Living on a farm, we have lots of weeds growing around the property--my husband's responsibility, not mine:) Many of them are quite pretty, like chicory and Queen Anne's Lace. But there are plenty of the nasty ones, too. I'd put poison ivy on the top of my list, like Tina, but one weed I haven't seen anyone mention is the cockleburr--horrible!

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