Last updated: September 22. 2013 5:14PM
Della King Contributing columnist



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Question: What winter weeds should I be concerned about?


Answer: Be on the lookout for annual and perennial weeds beginning to make their appearance. Some of the most common winter weeds are common chickweed (Stellaria media), mouseear chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum), henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), Florida Betony (Stachys floridana), and annual bluegrass (Poa annua).


Common chickweed, mouseear chickweed, and henbit are winter broadleaf weeds. Poa annua is a dense grass type weed.


Common chickweed and mouseear chickweed are mat-forming winter annuals with branching stems. The leaves are opposite, smooth to the touch, and oval shaped. They also have clusters of white flowers at the ends of the stems and reproduce by seed. Mouseear chickweed is densely hairy on the leaves and stems and common chickweed is sparsely hairy.


Henbit is a sparsely hairy winter annual with greenish to purplish four-sided stems, commonly referred to as the square stemmed weed. Leaves are rounded, coarsely toothed, hairy, and deeply veined. They are commonly mistaken for purple deadnettle due to the similar appearance. The difference between the two is that henbit doesn’t have petioles on the upper leaves.


Florida Betony often referred to as the rattlesnake weed is a smooth or hairy free branched perennial. It has slender white tubers resembling a rattle on the rattlesnake. The leaves are opposite along the square stem. It produces white to pinkish flowers.


Annual bluegrass is a clumping winter annual. The leaf blade is smooth on both sides and has two distinct clear lines on each side of the midrib. It produces small seed heads at the ends of the branches that open to a cluster of tiny white flowers.


These annuals fade out during the spring as temperatures rise. During the fall and winter months they can be controlled with the right herbicide application depending on your type of grass.


Reminder: If you would like to learn more about Horticultural related topics, then join the “Sampson County Friends of Horticulture”. This program offers monthly “How To” Horticultural Seminars. Please call 910-592-7161 for more information. Please call the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center at(910-592-7161 with your horticultural questions and to register for any upcoming events. Be sure to check out the Ask An Expert Widget at sampson.ces.ncsu.edu for any questions you may have.


(Della King is the Agriculture Extension Agent for Home Horticulture at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Sampson County.)

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