JoAnne Skelly: Weed season is here

Redstem filaree, a low-growing fernlike rosette.

Redstem filaree, a low-growing fernlike rosette.

We are reaping the rewards of a wet winter — weeds! While weeds are merely plants out of place, they taunt us with their persistence. They torment us and our pets with their burrs. They take over the lovely flower beds we work so hard to keep attractive. They compete with our veggies for water and nutrients. They overpower our desirable plants. They can harbor pest insects. Later, after their growing season is over, their spent woody structures may blow up against fences or all over the yard creating a fire hazard.

The weeds that are prevalent at the moment are redstem filaree, a low-growing fernlike rosette with tiny pink flowers, a member of the geranium family. It is a winter annual or biennial. While flowering, it is attractive, but when the seed heads develop, the reason for its alternate name of cranesbill becomes apparent. Those cranesbills are sharp and problematic. There can be 2,000 to 20,000 seeds per plant. The best control method is to hand-pull, dig, hoe or till before the plant goes to seed. Several inches of mulch help discourage seed germination. Preemergent herbicides can be applied in the late summer to early fall before the new plants emerge from the ground.

Flixweed is another bothersome weed, a member of the mustard family. It’s everywhere right now showing off its pretty yellow flowers on upright stems with ferny foliage. Later, it will become quite woody, breaking in the wind and blowing around in large masses. Fortunately, it pulls or hoes out quite easily while young. It does respond to herbicides, but after spraying you have to pull, hoe or weed whack the dead plants.

Hoary cress, or short whitetop, a perennial noxious weed in the mustard family is blooming pretty white blooms in many locations. Don’t be fooled. This plant is invasive and needs either persistent (weekly) digging of roots or herbicide application to control it. Mowing or cutting simply make it spread.

That’s just a few of the current crop of weeds.

Mother’s Day is coming. The Greenhouse Project, Carson City’s local nonprofit organization with the goals of feeding the hungry, beautifying downtown Carson City and teaching agriculture to students, is holding its annual plant sale May 7 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will flowers and vegetable starts available. The Greenhouse is located on the east side of Carson High School. Enter off Saliman Road at the south end of the high school by the bus yard.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at


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