IDAHO, USA — What's one thing we can all grow really well without any effort? Weeds.
Even the best lawns and gardens have to contend with weeds. On this edition of You Can Grow It, KTVB's Garden Master Jim Duthie shows us some common Idaho weeds that you might find in your yard and what you can do to control them.
Bindweed, a creeping perennial plant, isn't the pretty variety that gardeners grow on purpose. Instead, bindweed is a tough little vine spreading by seeds and roots through flower beds and growing up fences. It has small, white, funnel-shaped flowers and arrowhead shaped leaves. It can quickly grow to choke out other cultivated plants and it's hard to get rid of. One plant can produce 500 seeds, which can remain viable in soil for up to 50 years.
What's the best way to control it? A thick layer of mulch in the garden or flower bed.
Goatheads, or puncturevine, is a terror to bike tires, bare feet and dog paws. This low-lying plant spreads quickly to form a mat of leaves and sharp thorns. This weed can sprout and produce seeds in two to three weeks and will continue to grow until the first freeze. The pods can remain viable in the soil for up to 20 years.
Weed killers can help, but pulling the goatheads up by hand is the most effective way to get rid of those nasty thorns.
Prickly Lettuce is the closest wild relative of cultivated lettuce. It grows almost anywhere, starting out as a cluster of edible pointed leaves, but those leaves soon develop sticky hairs. A quick-growing stem shoots up about two to four feet tall, covered with sharp little spines. When broken, the stem leaks a milky white, sticky sap. Pale yellow flowers bloom from July to the fall and produce small, wind-borne seeds.
The best way to control this type of lettuce is by pulling it up. Be sure to wear some thick gloves.
Oxalis, or Wood Sorrel, is a common weed found in most Idaho lawns. It's often mistaken for clover. It can grow in the middle of a lawn but it's more likely to be found in poorly maintained lawns and flower beds. The leaves can be green, but are sometimes a bronze color. It's easy to pull up when the plant is small, but later on when it begins to produce yellow flowers, seed capsules will explode.
Application of a broadleaf herbicide is usually effective.
Spotted Spurge is a dark green plant with red stems that grows low to the ground in a dense mat. It blooms small, pink flowers and produces a milky sap that irritates the skin. Killing spurge is easy, but the hard part is keeping it from coming back. It has a very long tap root and the seeds are hardy.
Hard-pulling is a good option for getting rid of spurge, but wear gloves to protect yourself from the sap.
Poison Hemlock is highly toxic and considered a dangerous weed in Idaho. Plants generally grow up to six feet tall. It easily spreads to overtake small fields and empty lots, and can be identified by its fern-like leaves and clusters of creamy white flowers. Poison Hemlock also has red or purple streaks or spots along its stem. If any animals get into the plant and eat it, it can prove fatal.
The best way to get rid of Poison Hemlock is to cut it down with a blade or weed trimmer.
When it comes to a weed... You can grow it. But nobody really wants to.
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