February 17, 2016
Shepherd’s Purse
February 18, 2016

Broadleaf weeds can be a real problem for the homeowners. They can mar the appearance of a well-cultured lawn and are challenging to handle, especially if they are allowed to mature.

One of the most common broadleaf weed found in the transition regions is Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis). It is sometimes known as ‘poor man’s weather-glass,’ as the flowers of the plant close under overcast conditions! Although it sounds quaint, innocent little plant, in reality, this is an extremely aggressive weed that needs to be managed proactively.

In this article, we will learn some more details about the weed itself and some tips to get rid of it from your lawns.

What is Scarlet Pimpernel?

Scarlet pimpernel is an annual weed that is very quick to invade lawns and gardens. It visually similar to the chickweed, however, can be easily identified by a distinguishing square stem and red flowers, compared to the round stems and white flowers of the earlier. The leaves are light green in color and are oval or egg-shaped and grow in pairs at intervals on the stem. The plat has very distinct red flowers that bloom from June to September. Although the flowers are mostly bright red to orange in color, some varieties produce strikingly violet flowers that may cause some confusion in identifying the weed.

The sap of the plant can be an irritant to the skin, especially when fresh. It is imperative that you wear gloves while handling this weed, especially after mowing.

Scarlet pimpernel loves wet and damp conditions and usually develops in the over-watered areas of the lawn, receiving less direct sunlight.

How to Manage Scarlet Pimpernel?

The Scarlet pimpernel is an annual weed and in theory, can take care of itself, but if the plants are allowed to flower and seed, the weed can maintain its presence in the lawn for a number of seasons.

The best way to control the weed and prevent its further spread is by employing good cultural practices.

  • Over-watering your lawn will make it very susceptible to this weed
  • Make sure that you don’t allow any bare spots in your lawn, especially in the shady areas and follow the rule of thumb while irrigating; irrigate infrequently and deeply.
  • Although there is no need to use chemical methods in control of this weed, the best method to eradicate the established plants is to physically remove them one by one. Make sure that you are uprooting the plants before they flower and seed to reduce further contamination.
  • One of the most common methods to control this weed is called solarization. It can be done by layering a clear plastic sheet over the infested areas and using bricks or rocks to secure the plastic against the ground. This generates a greenhouse-like effect when the sun rays hit the ground. The heat is trapped inside the plastic, and that kills any plants, seeds, or any other vegetative parts in up to six inches of the soil. Make sure that the plastic remains on the soil for at least six weeks to get a total elimination.
  • A comprehensive weed control plan, either administered by a homeowner or lawn care professional, can easily kill and prevent this weed.

Something to Take Home

Broadleaf weeds can be a real threat to the beauty of any turf. They stick out of your lawn as a sore thumb and are at times, challenging to manage. Make sure to eliminate any broadleaf weed as soon as you spot them in your yard before they have time to flower and seed.