Mallow

By Barbara Pleasant, June 23, 2008

Photo

Mallow (Malva neglecta) is hollyhock's evil cousin. Present throughout North America and common in the Midwest and northeast, mallow is an annual capable of surviving mild winters. The pale pink or white flowers are hard to see, but look for them and pull plants before the blooms give way to disc-shaped seedpods. Pulling mallow is easy when the soil is moist, but large plants may need to be dug from dry gardens. Young seedlings also may be sprayed with an organic herbicide containing acetic acid or clove oil.

Weed Control Techniques

Pulling. Most young weeds can be pulled from the soil. They will slide out most easily if you pull them when the soil is wet. Getting the root up is crucial, so think of the main stem as the root's handle, and grasp it as close to the soil line as you can. If you find that the weeds are breaking off at the crown as you pull, slip a kitchen fork, dandelion weeder, or similar tool under the weed, and pry and twist as you pull it up. Weeds that have taproots, such as dandelion and plantain, usually must be pried out. A flexible pair of waterproof gloves will keep your hands comfortable as you weed, and it's good to have a nice sitting pad, too. Let pulled weeds bake in the sun for a day or so before composting them. If pulled weeds are holding mature seeds, compost them separately in a hot, moist pile before using this compost in the garden.

Digging. Weeds that regrow from persistent roots must be dug. Use a spade or digging fork to dig spreading perennials, such as bindweed, Canada thistle, and quackgrass. Start digging a foot away from the plant's center to loosen the soil. Then lift the weed from beneath, which reduces how many root pieces are likely to break off and regrow. Dandelion, dock, and other weeds that grow from persistent taproots can be dug the same way, or you can use a special fork-like tool called a dandelion weeder to pry them up. Dig very large taproots that are difficult to pry loose. In lawns and other places where digging dandelions is not practical, use a sharp knife to slice off the leaves and the top inch or two of taproot at a diagonal angle. Some weeds that are easily pulled when the soil is moist must be dug from dry soil.

Organic herbicides. There are several herbicides made from natural ingredients. Those that contain clove oil (eugenol) give the best control of young broadleaf weeds. Products containing acetic acid, often in combination with citric acid, do a good job on young grasses. Some products contain both clove oil and acetic acid, so they are useful for a broad variety of weeds. Soap-based herbicides dehydrate leaves by cutting through their protective layer of cutin. All of these types of organic herbicides work best on young weeds and pose only a temporary setback to well-rooted perennial weeds. To minimize damage to neighboring plants, spray only in dry, still weather. To maximize effectiveness, spray young weeds when temperatures are above 70 degrees F and the sun is shining brightly. Be aware that repeated applications of a product containing acetic acid (which is very strong vinegar) can lower the soil's pH, making it more acidic.

Photo courtesy of Randall G. Prostak, University of Massachusetts

Other Broadleaf Weeds
Black Medic
Weed info for Black Medic
Broadleaf Plantain
Weed info for Broadleaf Plantain
Buckhorn Plantain
Weed info for Buckhorn Plantain
Buttonweed
Weed info for Buttonweed
Canada Thistle
Weed info for Canada Thistle
Carpetweed
Weed info for Carpetweed
Chickweed
Weed info for Chickweed
Cinquefoil
Weed info for Cinquefoil
Corn Speedwell
Weed info for Corn Speedwell
Curly Dock
Weed info for Curly Dock
Dandelion
Weed info for Dandelion
English Daisy
Weed info for English Daisy
Ground Ivy
Weed info for Ground Ivy
Hawkweed
Weed info for Hawkweed
Henbit
Weed info for Henbit
Hop Clover
Weed info for Hop Clover
Horsetail
Weed info for Horsetail
Indian Mockstrawberry
Weed info for Indian Mockstrawberry
Lambsquarters
Weed info for Lambsquarters
Mallow
Weed info for Mallow
Pigweed
Weed info for Pigweed
Prickly Lettuce
Weed info for Prickly Lettuce
Prostrate Knotweed
Weed info for Prostrate Knotweed
Purslane
Weed info for Purslane
Ragweed
Weed info for Ragweed
Shepherd's Purse
Weed info for Shepherd's Purse
Smartweed
Weed info for Smartweed
Sorrel
Weed info for Sorrel
White Clover
Weed info for White Clover
Wild Garlic
Weed info for Wild Garlic
Wild Violets
Weed info for Wild Violets
Woodsorrel
Weed info for Woodsorrel
Yarrow
Weed info for Yarrow

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