Tag Archives: mulberry weed

Garden Alert! Summer To-Do List

Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne'

Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’

It’s July in Birmingham, time for weekends at the lake and trips to the beach or mountains (and aren’t we lucky to be so close to both?)  So I promise not to make you work too hard in the garden… but remember, a little work now will mean less later – and a prettier garden too!

So, here are a few things to be thinking about – and you don’t even  have to do them all at once! Simply walk through your garden at least every week and try to do at least a couple of the following tasks each time:

Pull weeds that may be coming up and dispose of them. Never put weeds on your compost pile unless you want more! Pulling weeds a bit at a time is so much easier than ignoring them and doing a marathon weed pull later. Trust me on this; I’ve been there. Did you see the post on mulberry weed? It’s one you need to keep out of your garden!

 'Becky' daisies

‘Becky’ daisies

Deadhead (cut off dead “heads” of blooms) any flowers that have passed their prime.


Along the same vein as deadheading is cutting back. Planters benefit greatly from being cut back when they are geting “out of control” in size  (usually around this time of year if you planted them in the early spring).  It’s a difficult thing to do for folks, but try it. Cut back those weedy looking zinnias. That coleus that’s gotten enormous? Cut it back! Those trailing plants that are looking a little worse for wear? Cut them back by at least half.

There, you did it! Now give those plants a bit of fertilizer, keep them watered, and then  stand back while they flush back out. You can thank me later!

Deadheading a phlox bloom...

Deadheading a phlox bloom…


Perennials in your garden will also appreciate a little attention here and there. When your phlox has pretty much bloomed out, trim the spent flower head off.  It will usually rebloom a second time. Once they’re completely done blooming, cut them back by half to neaten things up a bit. Rudbeckias, daisies and coneflowers will also continue to bloom longer if you pay attention and deadhead them just as you do your annuals.


Deadhead individual blooms on balloon flower

Deadhead individual blooms on balloon flower


Balloon flower is one perennial that you should never cut back while it’s blooming or you’ll lose out on a lot of flowers. Simply pinch off old blooms – this is best done daily. Confused about annuals and perennials? Refresh yourself by reading this post on them.



Do you see yellowing leaves on perennials or annuals? It only takes a few minute to “groom” a plant  – simply remove the yellow leaves; after all, they’re not going to turn green again! Daylilys definitely look better if you pay attention to this after you’ve cut back the faded bloom stem. You can even cut their  foliage back by half to neaten the plant up after it’s bloom period is completely over.

midsummer...perennials and annual share this bed.

midsummer…perennials and annual share this bed.

Some late blooming perennials should be getting taller…inserting wide border supports keep them in line (They are one of my favorite support systems.).  Take a look HERE  if you missed the post on late blooming perennials and what to do with them early in the season. The Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ shown in the picture at the beginning of this post  is an example of a perennial I cut back in the spring to control it’s height and bloom time. They are in full bloom around town now.

See the mulch?

See the mulch?







If you need to refresh mulch in beds, now is a good time to get this necessary task done. Not the most fun job, but it keeps the soil temperatures at the root zone of plants at an even temperature – especially important in our hot climate! Mulch conserves moisture, smothers weeds, and eventually will break down, contributing  to the health of the soil too. Pretty good stuff all the way around.

Okay, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now you can pour yourself a glass of wine, pat yourself on the back and enjoy your beautiful, cared for landscape!

By Kris Blevons

Mulberry Weed…Keep An Eye Out For This One!

imageMulberry weed, Fatuoua villosa, is a weed you definitely want to get rid of if you ever see it in your flower beds or any part of your landscape. Another common name is hairy crab weed – that doesn’t sound very pleasant does it? I cuss this weed out every time I see one (or more) in my garden…the main problem with this noxious weed is that it spreads by seed…and the seeds occur on very tiny plants. In my research, I keep finding that maintaining a 2″-4″ layer of mulch will help smother germinating seeds, and that pre and post emergent herbicides are very effective. Hower, because it grows so closely among desirable plants, using herbicides can be problematic, and not my favorite solution anyway.


It”s native to East Asia, with a range including Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Tonkin, Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands.  It was spotted in Louisiana in 1964 by J.W. Thieret, but it had been cited in New Orleans as early as 15 years before. If this is the case, it probably entered North America as early as the late 1940’s, possibly brought back by returning troops from World War II.  From there it’s suspected to have come into the Southeastern United States on nursery stock.

Since its introduction into the Southeast, it has been reported in states from Florida to Indiana, east of the Mississippi, including  Texas, north to Oklahoma, Arkansas, southern Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and West Virginia. It has also been reported in California and Washington State out west, and in the eastern and lower Midwest in south-central Ohio and southern Michigan.

imageListed as a noxious and invasive weed, it gets it’s common name because it looks similar to mulberry tree seedlings when they’re 4″ tall…but this herbaceous weed has a taproot and can grow 3′-4′ tall. You never, ever want them to get to that point though!!!!  It has purplish green flowers with no petals, and the seeds, which appear on it when it’s not even 2″ tall, are explosively discharged up to 4′ from the original plant. Because of this, there is never just one of this weed, but more likely, colonies of it. It’s easy to pull when young, but because it develops a taproot, it becomes more difficult to pull as the plant gets larger.  Be vigilant in eradicating this weed, and dispose of any that you hand pull into a trash bag immediately – don’t ever put it in your compost pile.