The lady’s thumb is not a lady | Chroniclers


Effective and efficient weed control is an art.

To be effective, it is important to know their habits and their life cycles. After all, they are smarter than us because they have had centuries to adapt to our environment.

An excellent example is the “smartweed” (Persicana marculosa). It goes by several names, but especially Lady’s Thumb for the purple spot on the leaves that looks like a thumbprint. Delicate pink blossoms appear on stems 3 to 3 feet long that look like they should be in a lady’s bouquet.

It is not all bad. With the exception of its roots, all parts of the plant are edible, rich in nutrients, and some have likened the flavor of the leaves to that of spinach. It is edible from spring to fall frosts, but is best in mid-spring as it becomes bitter with age. Warning: it contains toxins including tannins that cause photosensitivity in some people. It has long been used for many home remedies, including reducing irritation from poison ivy. This is where its charming assets end.

Like all invasive plants, this Eurasian plant has adapted to all soils, humidity conditions, sun to partial shade and grows easily in zones 5-10.

Lady’s Thumb is in bloom now before it gives seed. Control by pulling or chemically. The stems of the ground cover are stiff but thin and will easily pull away from the plant. To pull successfully, grab the base and give it a slight twist while pulling gently. If the soil is clayey, water the soil the day before to soften the soil making it easier to dig or send and upright weed control. This makes it easier to obtain taproots. If all is not ripped or pulled out, it will come back in the spring, but at least you need to reduce its spread by stopping going to seed. Chemical control includes a non-selective herbicide or a systemic herbicide. The best chemical controls contain dicamba, 2,4-D, or glyphosate.


“Life is short, plant more flowers.” Break the Dutch bulbs. Planting of the fall bulbs begins in late September and continues until the ground is frozen.

Garden – Plant hellebores and arum for winter interest. Plant perennials on an overcast day or in the late afternoon. Water well. Remove old annual flower stems and fertilize one last boost before winter. Hollyhocks (hibiscus family) can be annual, biennial or perennial. Remove the stems, the seeds have formed and ripened. Drop a few to the ground to self-seed. Keep hydrangeas moist. Do not divide baptisia, bleeding heart, monastery, peonies and poppies. Gently pull or cut the stems and foliage of the daylily to 6-8 “or wait until all the foliage is dead, pull and compost the foliage.

Company garlic, a member of the allium family, sows easily, germinates and quickly takes hold of the garden.

Cut the stems before the flowers produce seeds.

Shoot or dig the young poison ivy. Place a plastic bag over the plant and pull holding the bagged plant at the source, and as you pull let the bag cover the plant, making sure the whole plant is in the plastic bag, attach the handles and put it in the trash.

Houseplants – Order amaryllis and white ‘Ziva’ paper daffodils to force the holidays. Fertilize the spider plant once or twice a month. To start new plants, pin the “little ones” (seedlings) to potting soil, separate them from the mother plant when it is rooted. The new plants have started in the water but will not grow as tall.

Vegetables – To prevent grasshoppers from eating their favorite foods, sprinkle with flour or diatomaceous earth. Foods include beans, carrots, corn, lettuce, raspberries, and flowers. Or, spray with chili or a mixture of garlic and water.

Labor Day Weekend September 4-6 – 44th Annual Japanese Festival – Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 8 pm, Monday 9 am to 5 pm. For tickets: or 314-577-5100

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