WEED ID AT PLANT CLINIC by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent


Correct identification of a weed is the first step in control of that weed.  Most weeds that are dominant in our lawns, landscapes and gardens now are winter annuals.  They stand out in late winter and early spring.  Most are blooming now with white, yellow and purple flowers.  It may appear that these weeds suddenly came from nowhere.  But in fact they started their lives back in late fall or early winter.

During this transition time from winter to spring, these very visible winter annual weeds are approaching the end of their lives.  At the same time, many summer annual weeds are just getting started.  Understanding this concept is critical when it comes to controlling annual weeds.

Winter annual weeds such as chickweed, henbit and wild geranium have completed better than 70% of their lifetime by now.  They’ve produced hundreds if not thousands of seeds.  Most people wait too late to ask about controlling annual weeds.  But you can get a jump start in weed control by having your weeds identified at our first plant clinic for 2011.

The plant clinic will be held Thursday, March 17th from 10am to 1pm in Fort Walton Beach at the Okaloosa County Extension Service building, 127 w. Hollywood Blvd.

The plant clinic is designed to provide a place and time for people to bring in samples of plants for diagnosis, including weeds for identification.

Bring to the plant clinic a fresh sample of the weed, plant, insect, etc.  This may include a plant stem with several leaves, a 4-inch square of grass with roots attached, etc.  You may also bring a sample of your soil for pH testing.


Collect a composite soil sample by removing sub-samples from ten to fifteen small holes dug throughout the sample are (e.g. the front yard).   To obtain the sub-samples, carefully pull back mulch, grass or ground covers to expose bare soil.  With a hand trowel or shovel, dig small holes six inches deep and then remove a one inch thick by six inch deep slice of soil.  Combine and mix the sub-samples in a clean plastic bucket.  Place about two cups of this mixture in a plastic bag or small throwaway plastic container.  Close the container.  if the soil is wet, let it air dry by spreading it out on newspaper before putting it in the container.  make sure to attach a slip of paper with your name, phone number and where the sample was taken (e.g. lawn, vegetable garden, flowerbed, etc.).
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