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Growin’ Green

Is There A Purple Weed In Your Yard?

By Brent Gray

A prominent weed displaying reddish-purple flowers in many home lawns now is most likely henbit (Lamium amplexicaule L.). Henbit is a sparsely-hairy winter annual having somewhat rounded opposite leaves with bluntly toothed margins. The leaves and flowers are arranged in whorls on tender four-sided stems that are greenish to purple in color. Individual plants can become fairly large and become quite an eyesore in a dormant lawn even though the tiny purple flowers show a hint of spring.
Since this is one of many winter annuals that invade our lawns the best control is applying a pre-emergent herbicide near Labor Day to prevent their establishment.  However, once they are established post-emerge herbicides or mechanical removal are your options.  If henbit is the only winter annual found in your lawn mowing alone can be quite effective as it will prevent the plants from expanding and producing the purple flowers.  This weed is also one of the first to start dying out in the spring so hopefully it will not be around much longer.
 If you prefer the herbicide option Extension publication #1532 provides a list of several good post- emergent herbicide choices (atrazine, 2,4-D, dicamba, metsulfuron, trifloxysulfuron, chlorsulfuron, etc.) that will control this weed along with most other winter annual weed species. This publication and others pertaining to weed control and home lawns can be downloaded from the extension web site at
Southern pea growers should be lining up their seed now. Several catalogue supply houses have already sold out of some varieties.  More and more companies are posting that they do not have any seed.
Many areas of Mississippi received significant rainfall in the last few weeks. Onion and garlic growers should look at the foliage to see if the nitrogen has been leached out of the root zone and the foliage is starting to pale or yellow. These plants have a very short root system and some supplemental nitrogen and/or potassium now may yield bigger bulbs later. The same is true of recently transplanted broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage plants.
Cilantro is the leafy part of the coriander plant  and it envokes both love and hate from consumers. Folks who love it talk about it fresh flavor and distinctive aroma. Folks who hate it say it smells “buggy” and tastes soapy.  Cilantro shares some aldehyde chemicals with the six legged insects called true bugs.  Julia Child once said  if she found it in a dish she would remove the cilantro and throw it on the floor.   Both groups are entitled to their opinion, but the lovers either grew up eating the stuff or have developed a liking through exposure in Latin  American or Euro-pean cooking.  Crushing the leaves and allowing them to age a little while is said to reduce the objectionable odor. Cilantro pesto may be a good first taste. Coriander does well in Mississippi, so get some seed and give it a try. Plant about two weeks before the last frost. This means now for south Mississippi and before the end of March for north Mississippi.
Evergreen Plants Used for Screening or Privacy
For some reason I have gotten several requests for evergreen screen plants. Could be that garden centers and nurseries are being stocked now with new plants. Or it could be that during the winter the unsightly views become more visible especially if all that separates you from the neighbors are deciduous plants.  Choosing these plants is not hard. First you should evaluate your site first. Is it full sun, shade or part sun? How tall do you need the screen to be? Are you willing to prune to maintain height and spread? Some medium height (8-12’) choices for full sun would include Parney cotoneaster, abelias, loropetalum, and gardenia. For shade the selections (6-10’ height) would include the taller azaleas, aucubas and some selections of hollies. If you need a tall hedge in full sun that opens up more selections: Leyland cypress, Brodie juniper, Nellie R. Stevens, Brilliant and Mary Nell hollies,  Awabuki viburnum to name a few.  There are many more selections out there to fit your needs. Check with your local nurseryman to see what is available.

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