weed of the day: henbit

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Time posted: April 15, 2005

Henbit is making quite a showing in my area right now, including my lawn. Fields near me that aren’t culivated are covered in purple from the stuff, it’s actually a fairly attractive weed.

The folks that produce the excellent biweekly newsletter from Kansas State University extension had this to say about henbit:

The plants with the little purple flowers that are starting to make themselves known in home lawns are called henbit. If you are not sure this is what you have, check the stems. If they are square rather than round, you have henbit. Though it actually comes up in the fall, most people do not pay much attention to this weed until it starts to flower. Trying to kill it at this late stage with a herbicide is usually a waste of time and money. Though the plant may be burned back, it will rarely be killed. So what do we do? Remember, this is a winter annual; it comes up in the fall, matures in the spring and dies as soon as it starts to get hot. All that we can do now is keep it mowed until nature takes its course.

However, we can do something next fall that will help next spring. Henbit usually germinates about mid-October. Spraying with 2,4-D, Weed-B-Gon, Weed Free Zone, Weed Out, or Trimec in early November can go a long way toward eliminating henbit next spring. The plants are small during the fall and relatively easy to control. Choose a day that is at least 50 degrees F so the henbit is actively growing and will take up the chemical. Spot treating will probably be needed in the spring to catch the few plants that germinate late. Use Weed Free Zone, Weed Out, Weed-B-Gon, Trimec, or one of the special henbit herbicides early before the henbit has put on much growth.

I am adopting the “keep it mowed” posture. I actually bought a jug of Trimec a couple years ago, and reading the label was a frightening experience. I don’t want that stuff anywhere near me. The henbit isn’t out of control, so I pop it out of the ground with a hoe. Boy, it sure grows fast though.

henbit with a bumblebee
The bumblebees like the stuff–I can almost tolerate it

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