Question of the Week: March 24, 2022

“What is this weed, and how can I eliminate it?”

I’ll admit that henbit is somewhat attractive for the week or so that it’s in full bloom, but it soon turns unsightly as spider mites and powdery mildew plague its leaves. And yes, bees do like it, but there’s plenty of it in ditches and vacant lots around town. You don’t have to sacrifice your lawn to it. There are better bee-friendly plants you could grow.

Henbit is a “cool-season” weed. That means that it germinates in the fall, establishes itself over the winter, and goes nuts as the weather turns warm in late winter and early spring.

I refer to it using the same term I use for roadside asters in September: they are “weeds of neglect.” They show up in lawns that need better attention to mowing, watering and fertilizing.

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If the truth were known, you can eliminate this weed by simply mowing or trimming it right now. If you’re planning to scalp your lawn to get rid of the brown stubble from winter, you’ll take care of the henbit at the same time. It is a very weak grower and it will not come back.

However, if you have plants that look like this in your yard you already have seeds ready to germinate in five or six months to start the next generation of henbit.

Your game plan at this point…
Mow/scalp the lawn to remove the henbit and other winter weeds.
Mow regularly through this growing season to keep your turf low and dense so that it can crowd out weeds as they try to sprout.
Fertilize in April, early June and again in September to keep the grass vigorous.
Water enough to keep the grass growing.
Apply Gallery pre-emergent weedkiller granules in very early September to prevent germination of the next round of seedlings.
Should any small henbit plants show up in late fall or over the winter, apply a broadleafed weedkiller spray (containing 2,4-D) to kill them before they start blooming.

Follow those guidelines for a couple of years and henbit and many of your other lawn weeds will be things of the past.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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