Weeds that shoot seeds when touched

How did THAT get into my lawn: Bittercress

March 30, 2012

Bittercress flowers and seed pods

While typically a winter annual weed, the mild winter and early increased temperatures have caused bittercress to invade nearly every lawn in our area.

Dealing with Bittercress

Bittercress is one of the first weeds to pop-up in lawns in the early spring.

A little about Bittercress – Bittercress is a winter annual weed that begins to appear in lawns in very early spring and can quickly spread throughout your lawn. Stems range from 3-9” long and keep most of their leaves in the lower portion of the plant. Most recognizable by its little, white flowers and the small round capsules that appear at the end of each branch. The optimal temperatures for bittercress are 45-85°F making this spring a perfect time for this pesky weed.

Bittercress Plant

How did THAT get into my lawn? – A common name for bittercress is also shot weed for one very specific reason; as the plant matures the seed pods literally burst when touched. This causes the seeds to fly far from the parent plant (up to 10ft) and infest throughout your lawn quickly as the average seed count per plant is 600. These seeds also have almost no germination time. These seeds ripen for production at high temperatures and a plant completes its life cycle in 5-6 weeks.

What can I do?– Seedlings should be killed as quickly as possible and can be easily controlled with post-emergent herbicide. Green Lawn’s Spring applications are crucial in preventing this weed from spreading all summer. Once sprayed by our technicians, plants should begin to die quite quickly. However, with the quick life cycle of this weed and explosive seed cast, you may see new plants occurring in between our applications. If this is the case, we can certainly set up a service call for you. It is important to note that these weeds should not be pulled. This weed can quickly regenerate a new plant from a fragment of root system left in the soil. Our selective herbicide will make sure that these root systems are killed off efficiently. Overtime, this weed can be contained by herbicide as our broadleaf weed control exhausts the seed bank that was released into your lawn.

Read More: Lawn Programs, Spring Application, Spring Lawn Care

Garden News Blog

Weed of the Month: Hairy Bittercress

By Saara Nafici | April 5, 2017

As winter warms to spring, a favorite weed of foragers starts to emerge in rather cute clumps—it’s hairy bittercress! It has actually been lurking near the surface all winter, having germinated in the fall and waited out the cold temperatures before sending up flowers and seeds.

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) leafs out in a basal rosette, and like other members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), its tender greens are edible. Don’t be fooled by the common name—its flavor is mild and peppery, not bitter. Though the flowers can be tough to chew, the tender leaves are suitable for a chic microgreens salad and have tons of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.

The flower stalks shoot up above the rosette, topped with clusters of tiny, cross-shaped white flowers. Indeed, the former name for the family is Cruciferae, a reference to the crucifix pattern of the petals common in that family’s flowers. However, when I was little, I remember thinking these tiny flowers looked like frosty pixie wands or fairy crowns, at once earthy, tough, regal, and whimsical.

More: Learn to identify more weeds and find out more about each one by browsing the Weed of the Month archive.

While urban grazers will be most focused on the leaves, I think the seed capsules are the best part of hairy bittercress. Called siliques, they look like purplish-green toothpicks standing upright around the flower. As the seeds mature, the pods begin to coil tightly until—pop! A gentle touch or passing breeze triggers the pods to explode and send the seeds flying as far as three feet from the mother plant. This ballistic dispersal strategy, known as ballochory, is also employed by jewelweed and cranesbill.

Though hairy bittercress is originally from Eurasia and was introduced to North America, there are several species of Cardamine that are native to the United States. Several are listed as threatened or endangered, mostly due to habitat loss.

Hairy bittercress is adapted to moist, disturbed soils, so it emerges wherever we irrigate. Unsurprisingly, then, it’s a common lawn weed (where it can form expansive mats) as well as a greenhouse weed (where it pops up in and around containers). Mowing and hand weeding are the typical means of control—the shallow fibrous roots make it an easy pull. If you do pull some from your garden beds, consider making a farmer’s sandwich of cheese, apples, and a bit of fresh bittercress. Skip the compost pile and send it your stomach instead!

Weed of the Week: Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress weed

About Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsute), is a winter and summer annual that germinates from seed during cool moist conditions, like spring and fall. It is a prolific seed producer that explodes at the slightest touch, sending tiny seeds flying in all directions when the seedpods mature. Once established, it is VERY difficult to eradicate.

Hairy Bittercress is a member of the mustard family (Cruciferae) with a flat rosette of leaves that produces small white, four-petal flowers. One tiny flower can produce up to 600 seeds, enough to take over a garden. It likes to grow in disturbed soil in sunny, damp areas. If allowed to go to seed, bittercress can quickly become a menace in walkways, garden beds and lawns.

Controlling Hairy Bittercress

Hairy bittercress seed pods

Hairy bittercress is easy to pull by hand. Pull it before it has a chance to flower or set seed. Or, you can cut off the tops of young seedlings with a hoe and remove them from the soil surface.

Apply mulch after weeding to prevent further germination.

If you prefer to use an organic herbicide, horticultural vinegar with a small amount of orange oil will top-kill bittercress. It does not kill the roots, so it’s most effective on young, germinating plants, otherwise it may take a couple of applications spaced out 1-2 weeks apart.

Benefits of Hairy Bittercress

Bittercress adds a peppery accent to salads

Hairy bittercress is an edible, bitter herb that can provide a peppery addition to salads. Like all members of the mustard family, it is loaded with nutrients.

Stay Vigilant

During late fall and spring (when bittercress is starting to germinate) we recommend going on patrol once or twice a week for this pesky weed. They grow quickly so get to them before the seeds pop or you’ll be cursing the little buggers for seasons to come.

Hairy bittercress: A weed to watch out for

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is an annual weed in the mustard family. It often makes its way into landscapes as a “gift with purchase.” A few plants or seeds of bittercress tucked into a container-grown plant are all it needs to get started. Just a plant or two can make a substantial stand of plants in a year or so.

Like many members of the mustard family, hairy bittercress appears early in spring and sets seed prolifically. Seeds germinate in fall (October) and make a small rosette of leaves that will overwinter. The first true leaves are heart-shaped, followed by leaves with two to four alternating leaflets. Once the weather warms in spring, it sends up stalks of small, white flowers, followed by slender seed pods known as siliques. Once the seedpods ripen, disturbing the pods will send the seeds flying as far as 16 feet, dispersing them over the ground for the next season’s crop.

To manage hairy bittercress, mow or pull it early in the season before it sets seed. Apply post-emergence herbicides to actively growing plants before seedpods form. Don’t add pulled plants to the compost pile just in case they manage to set seed. Pre-emergence herbicides are best applied in fall before seeds germinate.

Manage hairy bittercress by mowing or pulling it early in the season before it sets seed.

Hairy Bittercress

Q&A related to Hairy Bittercress

  • How long before I see wilting or the weeds dying after using SpeedZone Lawn Weed Killer Concentrate?
  • Does Mec Amine D kill hairy bittercress?
  • Will Ferti-lome Weed-Out Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec kill hairy bittercress but not kill my grass?
  • Will Fertilome Weed Free Zone kill my cress?
  • Does Fertilome Weed Free Zone kill Cardamine Hirsuta (hairy bittercress, pepperweed, shotweed, snapweed)?
  • Can I use a post-emergent now, approx. 15 days after applying the crabgrass pre-emergent?
  • Does Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed and Feed 3 control/kill bittercress?
  • Will Fusilade II kill bittercress, a weed blooming with 0.5 inch white crosses, now. It’s raging in my fescue
  • Can I use Riptide 5.0% Pyrethrin ULV for fly control on cattle with a portable sprayer ?
  • Can I spray Riptide 5.0% Pyrethrin ULV directly on cattle? Does it need to be diluted to do so?
  • Will Ranger Pro kill hairy fleabane?
  • Will Talstar XTRA granules kill tarantulas and wolf spiders?
  • Will Crossbow Herbicide kill bittercress and not my lawn?
  • Is the Perky Pet Fairy Dust Hummingbird Feeder 4.8 oz. (W06HB) still available?
  • Does GrazonNext HL Herbicide kill buttercup weeds?
  • Can I use Daconil Ultrex to treat fairy ring in my centipede grass?
  • I need a new vector cup for my Perky Pet Fairy Dust Hummingbird Feeder 4.8 oz. (W06HB).
  • Does Azoxy 2SC Select get rid of fairy rings?
  • How long do you have to keep cattle off pasture after using Crossbow?
  • Can you feed hay that has been sprayed with Remedy Ultra Herbicide?

Cardamine hirsuta
Hairy Bittercress
By Emma Erler, The Alice and J. Liddon Pennock, Jr. Endowed Horticulture Intern
This time of year there isn’t too much happening in the garden. Most plants have gone dormant for the winter. However, as the snow melts you may notice a low growing plant with a basal rosette of leaves. This is a common weed in the mustard family called hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). Hairy bittercress is a winter annual, which means its seeds usually germinate in cool, moist weather. Seedlings emerge mainly in late summer or fall. They are frost hardy and will remain dormant through the winter until temperatures warm up. In early to mid-spring, hairy bittercress will resume growth, produce flowers, and go to seed. Plants die back as soon as hot weather arrives in late spring and summer.
As a seedling, hairy bittercress has simple kidney-shaped leaves. Mature plants have prominent basal rosettes of hairy, compound leaves with shallowly lobed kidney-shaped leaflets. Flowering stems emerge from the rosette and have only a few small leaves. Hairy bittercress flowers are very small (2-3 mm) in diameter with four white petals. The subsequent fruits are 1-2 cm long capsules that explosively disperse their seeds up to 3 meters from the plant.
The best way to control hairy bittercress in the garden is to remove it before it sets seed. Each plant is capable of producing many thousands of seeds, hence removing the plants before seeds are set will greatly control the population. Small populations can be easily hand pulled from the garden. In large areas, regular hoeing will prevent plants from flowering and going to seed.
For the adventurous gardener, hairy bittercress is an edible green. Tender leaves collected in early spring or late fall can add a peppery taste to salads.
As the winter progresses, keep an eye out for hairy bittercress and get ready to weed as the weather warms up!

Photos: Emma Erler

Hairy Bittercress Killer: Learn More About Control For Hairy Bittercress

Late winter and spring signal growth of all plants, but especially weeds. Annual weed seeds overwinter and then burst into growth towards the end of the season. Hairy bittercress weed is no exception. What is hairy bittercress? The plant is an annual weed, which is one of the earliest to sprout and form seeds. Control for hairy bittercress starts early in the season before flowers turn to seed and get a chance to spread.

What is Hairy Bittercress?

Hairy bittercress weed (Cardamine hirsuta) is an annual spring or winter pest. The plant springs from a basal rosette and bears 3- to 9-inch long stems. The leaves are alternate and slightly scalloped with the largest at the base of the plant. Tiny white flowers develop at the ends of the stems and then turn into long seedpods. These pods split open explosively when ripe and fling seeds out into the environment.

The weed prefers cool, moist soil and is most prolific after early spring rains. The weeds spread quickly but their appearance reduces as temperatures increase. The plant has a long, deep taproot, which makes pulling them out manually ineffective. Control for hairy bittercress is cultural and chemical.

Preventing Hairy Bittercress in the Garden

This pesky weed is small enough to hide among your landscape plants. Its extensive seed expulsion means that just one or two weeds can spread quickly through the garden in spring. Early control for hairy bittergrass is essential to protect the rest of the landscape from an infestation.

Prevent invasions into turf areas by encouraging good grass growth. The weeds easily infest thin or patchy areas. Apply several inches of mulch around landscape plants to help prevent seeds from getting a foothold in your soil.

Cultural Control for Hairy Bittercress

Pulling out hairy bittercress weed usually leaves the root behind. The plant will re-sprout from healthy weeds and the problem persists. You can, however, use a long slim weeding tool to dig down and around the taproot and get all the plant material out of the ground.

Mowing will achieve control over time. Do it frequently enough that you remove the flower heads before they become seed pods.

As temperatures get warmer, the plant will die naturally without having reproduced. That means fewer weeds the following season.

Chemical Hairy Bittercress Killer

Severe infestations of hairy bittercress weed will require chemical treatment. Herbicides applied post emergence need to have two different active ingredients. The ingredients must be 2-4 D, triclopyr, clopyralid, dicamba or MCPP. These are found in broadleaf herbicide preparations known as two, three or four-way treatments.

The higher number preparations will kill a wide range of weeds. The two-way herbicide should be sufficient for your purposes unless you have a field full of a variety of weed pests as well as the hairy bittercress weed. Apply your chosen herbicide in spring or fall.

Weed of the Week: Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress Flowers Beginning to Blooming

Photo Credit: Andreas Rockstein | Flickr
How to Manage: The seeds are located in the flowering portion of the bittercress, so to avoid dispersion and infestation it is best to remove right away before it gets to this growth stage. You can remove by hand or garden tool but because the slightest disturbance can release and spread the seeds it may be best to apply a post-emergence herbicide when the weed is actually growing. It’s important to understand that for optimum post-emergent control, apply product to actively growing, immature weeds; more than one application may be needed. To fight this invasive weed before an infestation, apply a pre-emergent herbicide in late summer/early fall, prior to bittercress germination. NOTE: If you apply a pre-emergent in fall, you’re unable to plant grass seed since pesticides inhibit seed germination, including new grass seed. For cases where the invasion is less severe, pull weed out by hand since taproots are weak and shallow. Overall, the best prevention method for hairy bittercress and any invasive weed is to maintain healthy, dense turf with a strong root system by adopting a regular lawn care routine including fertilization, soil amendments, proper mowing and watering as well as aeration and thatch management practices.
To view our pre- and post-emergent products, download our Product Catalog for more information.

THe GREEn insider

During this cool spring, you may have noticed a strange looking plant with white flowers, growing in your lawn. We’ll look at this common weed, what causes it, and how to get rid of it.

What is Hairy Bittercress?

Hairy Bittercress is a common weed that thrives in late winter & early spring. This cold loving weed is actually a member of the mustard family and is edible as a bitter herb. In Cleveland and Columbus this weed is easily identifiable, with white flowers on wiry green stems.

Hairy bittercress often grows in cool, damp, recently disturbed soil, making it most common in landscape beds and gardens. However, Weed Pro technicians are seeing it in a quite a number of lawns due to the high level of moisture and cooler spring.

Grows in Thin Grass Areas

While appearing in gardens and landscape beds, this winter annual weed often appears in lawns that have thin turf. A fast moving plant, Hairy Bittercress has a lifespan of 3-4 weeks before releasing thousands of quickly spreading seeds.

How do I get rid of Hairy Bittercress?

The good news is that Hairy Bittercress is a winter annual, which means that it will die out when the temperatures get warmer. However, it’s ugly now, and with typical Ohio weather, you never know when it may warm up.

Hairy bittercress will die out on its own, however the best defense is always a good offense. Seeing hairy bittercress in your lawn is an indication of a thin lawn, that needs to be thickened up.

Aeration & Overseeding

The best way to improve a thin lawn and to limit the amount of hairy bittercress in your lawn is to aerate and overseed your lawn. By creating thousands of tiny holes in your lawn, then overseeding, you’ll improve your existing turfs root system, allowing your turf to become thicker and stronger. This will not only eliminate hairy bittercress, but it will also eliminate many other weeds.

More Spring Lawn Care Tips

Seeding or sodding is just one of the issues you may face when preparing for the lawn care season. That’s why Weed Pro has put together one of the best spring lawn care guides in the industry. The best part is that it’s yours absolutely free by clicking on the link below!

Shaun Kanary has been a part of the Green Industry for the past 15 years. As the Director of Marketing for Weed Pro Lawn Care, a Cleveland and Columbus Lawn Care Service Provider, Shaun is a regular contributor to the Weed Pro Blog, and other industry magazine and blogs.
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Weeds That Shoot Their Seeds

Q. Crazy weeds are literally popping seeds at me and my dog as we walk through the grass in our neighborhood. I have never seen them before, but they are everywhere this season! They’re about four inches high, have white flowers and ‘popping seeds’ (no wonder they’re so successful at reproducing!). Any idea what they are? They are difficult to pull because the seeds pop into your face. Thanks.

    —“N. Ivy”; Gaithersburg, MD

About three years ago I noticed a pretty little white flower growing in my lawn. But after a few weeks, it turned into something from a science fiction movie, shooting its spikey seeds every which way if you touched it. My local garden shop identified it as a type of chickweed, and suggested I pull as much out as I could by hand. I spent many hours doing so, and all I got was a sore back. Last year I went online and correctly identified the culprit as “Hairy Bitter cress”. The recommended control method was to use a spray called Spectracide, which they forgot to mention also kills the lawn. Is there anything you can suggest to rid my lawn of this nuisance? Thank you.

    —Larry in Audubon, PA

A. As you can imagine, a weed that evolves to have its dried seeds sitting on a kind of ‘trigger’ that shoots them into the air when the plant is disturbed has a huge reproductive edge. If a big herbivore comes along to devour the plant, that first touch is going to release a lot of lifeboats carrying the next generation. A number of weeds have developed this explosive ability, with ‘hairy bitter cress’ the most likely culprit at this time of year.

Its small white flowers are similar to those of chickweed, another ‘unwanted plant’ that blooms early in the Spring. But chickweed is more of a flat, spreading, mat-like plant. And its seedpods aren’t faster than a speeding bullet. Both weeds are remarkably easy to control in flowerbeds; just pull them, roots and all, out of wet soil. Chickweed comes out in big clumps, while bitter cress has a nice little stalk that gives you a handle to grab onto. Just remember to soak the soil first; all weeds come out of wet soil MUCH easier than dry.

But I like to wait until after the little white flowers form to pull these weeds. Their flowers open up right before the blooms on my fruit trees, attracting lots of the pollinators and beneficial insects I’ll need to get a good fruit set and to fight all the pests that want to eat those peaches as much as we do.

If I’m paying attention and life cooperates, I’ll pull the weeds while they’re still in flower and before they set seed. Both weeds get composted—mixed into a good amount of shredded leaves hoarded from the previous fall; at least two parts leaves to every part green weed. The bitter cress typically comes up with a good amount of soil attached to its roots, which adds microbial life to the pile; and the chickweed has a lot of water content to help keep the moistness levels right.

If I don’t get to them in time, I toast the seedheads with my trusty flame weeder before I pull the plants, just like I do with dandelions that have progressed to the puffball stage. Dandelion seeds burst into little flares of color—like Munchkin fireworks. Bittercress seeds explode with a loud ‘pop’. (Organic gardening is SO much more fun than spraying hormonal disruptor around!)

Both weeds are also highly edible, especially when young. Chickweed is more nutritious than the salad greens that many people remove it to plant! And, although hairy bittercress (a member of the mustard family) doesn’t have nearly as many wild food fans as chickweed or purslane (perhaps the most edible ‘weed’), it does have some of the peppery taste of its namesake watercress, and it’s loaded with cancer-fighting nutrients. Pick it before the flower buds form and it won’t have nearly as much of the bitter edge that older plants take on. (Flowering changes the flavor of virtually all herbs and greens for the worse.)

In turf, weeds like bittercress are a sure sign of poor lawn care. The answer is not to poison yourself and the environment (and kill your grass) in a futile attempt to remove the weed, but to care for your lawn correctly and deny the weed a place to live. Take good care of your grass and a harmless little plant like this should never have a chance to get established, much less thrive.

For a Northern, cool-season lawn (one composed of cool-season grasses like rye, fescue and/or bluegrass) that means never cutting shorter than three inches, never feeding in summer, watering deeply but infrequently, and giving the lawn a big natural feeding in the Fall.

If you scalp the lawn, weeds will thrive. If you water it frequently for short periods of time, weeds will thrive. And if you feed the poor heat-stressed thing in summer, weeds will take over.

Oh—and don’t use chemical herbicides. We hear they’re murder on the poor grass….

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How to Identify Common Lawn Weeds

By Lance Walheim, The National Gardening Association

No one likes a weedy lawn. Following are 16 of the most troublesome lawn weeds, with information to help you identify and control them, so you can have the nicest most weed-free lawn on the block:

  • Annual bluegrass: Annual bluegrass is a bright green annual grass with grain-like seedheads that give the lawn a whitish, speckled look. Annual bluegrass is sometimes called winter grass in mild-winter climates where it shows up in dormant Bermuda grass lawns. (The dormant grass is brown.)

    Aerate compacted soil. Mow higher to shade out seedlings. Mow more frequently, so seedheads don’t mature. Water only when necessary. Apply pre-emergence herbicide in late summer to early fall. Spot-treat with a selective herbicide in dormant Bermuda grass lawns.

  • Bermuda grass: Bermuda grass is a light green, perennial grass with fine textured leaves. It spreads rapidly by seed, stolons (creeping, above-ground stems), and rhizomes (below-ground stems). Seedheads are arranged like helicopter blades.

    Tough to control without herbicides, eventually Bermuda grass takes over and becomes the lawn in many mild winter areas. Pre-emergences can prevent seeds from germinating. You can spot-treat existing plants with glyphosate and then replant (glyphosate kills everything) or renovate the entire lawn. Otherwise, if you’re trying to keep your cool-season grass, make sure that it grows vigorously by caring for it properly.

  • Broadleaf plantain: Broadleaf plantain has bright green leaves that are often scalloped.

    Aerate compacted soil. Avoid overwatering. This weed is easy to pull by hand when the plant is young. Control with appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed products.

  • Burclover: Burclover is easy to identify by its light green, cloverlike leaves, yellow flowers, and spiny seed pod (the bur).

    Take better care of the lawn. Aerate soil to improve water penetration. Water more efficiently and fertilize at recommended levels.

  • Crabgrass: Crabgrass leaves are blue-green, often tinged purple, and form a tight, compact, crab-like circle (hence the name). Stems are spreading. Seedheads form in summer and fall and can reach several feet high if not mowed.

    Growing a dense, healthy lawn is the best prevention. So step up your maintenance and water, fertilize, and mow properly. Hand pull individual plants before they set seed. Appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed products are also effective.

  • Dallis grass: Dallis grass has leaves are light green and seedheads look a little like the tail of a rattlesnake.

    Aerate to improve drainage. Adjust sprinklers to allow wet areas to dry partially between waterings. Dig out individual plants (make sure that you get as much of the short rhizomes as possible) and reseed. Weed-and-feed products provide pre- or post-emergence control.

  • Dandelion: This perennial broadleaf weed has with yellow flowers and puffball seedheads has leaves that are dark green and scalloped.

    Pull individual plants whenever you see them. Cut off flowers before they form seeds. Use an appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed product.

  • Dock: Dock grows as a tight rosette of dark green leaves with a tall flower stalk that turns rusty brown as it dries.

    Aerate to improve drainage. Allow the lawn to dry out between waterings. Dig out individual plants by hand. Reduce shade by pruning trees. Cut off any seed heads that form.

  • English daisy: This low-growing broadleaf perennial sports pretty, white with a yellow center, daisy-like flowers and dark green leaves.

    Some people just leave this weed alone — they like the flowers. Otherwise, pull by hand and water and fertilize more efficiently. Appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed products are also effective.

  • Ground ivy: Leaves are dark green, round with scalloped edges. Small, purplish flowers appear in spring.

    Take better care of your lawn with appropriate watering and fertilizer. Pull young plants out by hand. Spot-treat small invasions with a broadleaf herbicide and then replant. Apply an appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed product.

  • Henbit: Small, roundish, scalloped leaves appear in pairs along square stems and are hairy. Pink to purple flowers form on the top of upright stems in fall and spring.

    This weed is easy to pull by hand. Keep the lawn growing vigorously and mow properly. Apply appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed product.

  • Mallow: Mallow has dark green, roundish, heavily crinkled, leaves.

    Mallow is hard to control. Hand-pull in new lawns. Keep the lawn growing vigorously and mow at the proper height. Apply an appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed product.

  • Oxalis: Oxalis has bright green cloverlike leaves and small, yellow flowers.

    Oxalis is hard to control, even with herbicides. Keep the lawn growing vigorously with appropriate water and fertilizer. Spot-treat small areas with a broadleaf herbicide. Carefully time applications of weed-and-feed products. You may need to repeat applications to provide control. Follow label instructions carefully.

  • Prostrate knotweed: Prostrate knotweed has small, pointed, blue-green leaves. Tiny, white to yellow flowers form on stems during summer to fall.

    Pull individual plants by hand, making sure that you get the crown and roots. Aerate compacted areas. Use an appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed product.

  • Spotted spurge: Spotted spurge has tiny green leaves, each with a red spot.

    Keep the lawn growing vigorously and mow at the correct height. Pull individual plants. Apply an appropriate, labeled weed-and-feed product.

  • Yellow nutsedge: This perennial sedge has three-sided stems and yellow- green, grasslike leaves. A tall, brownish-yellow flower spike appears in summer.

    This weed is hard to control. Aerate to improve drainage. Let the lawn dry out partially between waterings. Pull weeds by hand when very young. Spot-treat plants with appropriate, labeled herbicides. Replant if necessary.

Hairy bittercress

Left unchecked, hairy bittercress can quickly spread to infest the whole garden. This weed can complete its lifecycle in three to four weeks to disperse thousands of seeds, all of which can germinate to release their own seeds in quick succession. Bittercress may be introduced as seed, seedlings or as plants in compost when buying new plants from nurseries or garden centres. It may also spread from neighbouring gardens or remain dormant at depth in the soil to be brought to the surface by cultivation. Plants are also able to overwinter.

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Symptoms

Small short-lived annual plants which spread rapidly by means of small seeds dispersed from spring-like seedpods.

Find it on

freshly-cultivated ground in borders, pots, paving, walls, vegetable plots

Organic

Remove young plants before they get a chance to flower and set seed. Pull them out individually by hand or hoe off young seedlings and remove from the soil surface. Avoid deep cultivation which brings up new seeds. Apply a mulch to the surface after weeding to prevent further germination.

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Chemical

Use contact weedkiller to kill seedlings and young plants before they grow and get a chance to flower.

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