There's so much more to a great yard than just mowing the lawn.

Horseweed: Pull it!

Horseweed, Conyza canadensis

This is a young horseweed plant (Conyza canadensis)

With all the rain, the weeds are growing like crazy. Many of them are little tikes right now, but there’s potential for weeds to create big problems down the road. Just like a toddler with a “behavior issue,” it’s a good idea to get control of them right now before they get out of hand.

One of the big challenges for some people is not knowing which plants are weeds. Once they realize they are weeds, what’s the best way to get rid of them?

That’s where I can help. I’m going to do a series of posts on weeds this week. I’ll focus on one weed in each post so you don’t get overwhelmed. So, here we go!

Let’s start with an easy one. The first weed is called horseweed (Conyza canadensis). It’s a pretty little plant when young, but will grow into a 3-6 foot tall weed when mature.

I recognize horseweed by its long, fuzzy bright green leaves and upright central stem. Here’s a one-minute video I put together that shows you what horseweed looks like and how to identify it.

I find it mostly in areas with bare soil, decorative rock or gravel. It grows rapidly and produces a lot of seed after it flowers in July through September. If you let it go to seed, it will spread throughout your landscape into any spots with bare ground or rock mulch.

Horsetail Seedling

Small horsetail seedlings have long, fuzzy leaves.

The good news is that horsetail is very simple to control. Simply grab it by the stem and pull it out. Since it grows from seed every spring, the root system is pretty shallow. The plants will out with a gentle tug. This plant does not regrow from any bits of roots left in the soil, so once you pull it you’ve done all you need to so.

In addition, horsetail has soft, fuzzy leaves so you don’t even need gloves to work on it. Simply stroll into your landscape after dinner, pull a few horsetail plants and know that you are taking steps to care for your landscape. In my yard, most of them are about 3-6 inches tall right now. That’s the perfect size to pull them; they’re big enough to grab hold of, but not so large they’re causing problems.

Young horsetail plant, Conyza canadensis

A young horsetail plant usually has only one stem, but some have branched stems at the base.

Should you spray horseweed? I actually thing it’s easier to hand pull it than spray it. Here’s why. If you spray it, you have to let it die, then come back and pull out the dead weeds. Spraying then becomes a two-step process whereas hand pulling is just one step and you’re done. Hand pulling works very well, plus it reduces the amount of chemicals we are putting into the environment.

When you get a chance, get out and pull some horseweed this week. It’s a satisfying weed to pull and release some of your daily stress. More to come later this week!


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2 Responses to Horseweed: Pull it!

  1. Luke Vesely June 19, 2015 at 8:11 am #

    Hi Catherine, another very timely post, thank you. Here I was letting these things grow because I thought they were going to turn into sunflowers lol! I’m learning!

    • Catherine June 19, 2015 at 10:38 am #

      Thanks, Luke. I’m glad it helped. I’m really grateful to all the plant people who so graciously shared their knowledge with me over the years. Your comment made me chuckle.

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