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Sunday, May 1, 2016

What about those weeds?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

During August, every extension office has an inventory of plant samples submitted by clients for identification and control recommendations.

We extension educators also receive digital photos of plants via e-mail, with clients asking, "what is this?"

Pulling weeds in dry soil in August has to rank as one of the least favored gardening activities. Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated that a weed is merely a plant whose virtue is yet unknown. This article features extension information on some of our area's "less virtuous" plant species.

Galinsoga or


I have fought this tough annual for years in my garden. A member of the sunflower family, galinsoga is an annual with alternate leaves and small, white to pink florets. Seeds require no hardening period, so production is prolific. The week typically grows to a foot tall, has no labeled herbicide control in flowers and vegetables.

Mulch and pulling are the two main methods of control. Young stems and leaves can be cooked and eaten as greens if you give up trying to control it. I will try this control method and let you know how it works.


This is another annual that can be eaten if you are beaten. Purslane produces by seeds and can tolerate dry weather and heat. The matted appearance of thick, fleshy leaves and stems makes Purslane a problem in flower and vegetable gardens. It can propagate with a small cutting, so make sure you clean it all up when you hoe.

Creeping Charlie

or ground ivy

This mint family member may have a nice smell, but it can dominate turf that is thinning of shaded. Creeping Charlie has the square mint stem, bluish flower and strong aroma.

Purdue turf specialists report that herbicide application is most effective when made from mid-September to mid-October. This timing of an application of 2,4-D would also be excellent for control of dandelions and other broadleaf weeds found in the lawn. Purdue Turf Tips provides more information at www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/tips/turftips.h....

Poison Ivy

This vine can spread by seeds, roots and stem tissue. Photos and actual dried plant samples can be to identify, as the cluster of three leaves can appear in various sizes. At this time of year, clusters of whitish berries are forming on the plants and will look very pretty as contrasted by red fall color of poison ivy leaves. Some photos of Virginia creeper have been submitted to me this summer, asking if the sample was poison ivy. Virginia creeper is not in the same group of problem plants like poison ivy and poison sumac.

Check out poison ivy control options at the Purdue Weed Science website at www.btny.purdue.edu/weedscience.


Crabgrass is a warm season annual that completes its life in one year. Crabgrass germinates once the soil warms up and can be very opportunistic in thin lawns that are mowed too short (under 3-inches height). A thick, healthy turf is the first defense against crabgrass. For less crabgrass in the yard in 2010, plan now for an improved turf (check out Purdue Turf Tips previously mentioned) and consider application of a preventive herbicide in spring.

Weed control can be the downfall of a flower bed, strawberry patch, pasture, or vegetable garden. As with every pest management challenge, proper identification provides information on how the plant lives and can be controlled. Feel free to contact me at Purdue Extension Vigo County at 812-462-3371 or mail me at luzar@purdue.edu.

You are more than welcome to drop off a plant sample to the extension office or send me a photo using my e-mail address.

Happy weeding.