Henbit: This weed will drive you crazy

March 13, 2017 | By Roundtree Landscaping

Winter weeds are having a heyday in our landscapes right now thanks to a perfectly mild winter and recent rainfall. One weed in particular might have you feeling like you’ll never be able to control it: that’s henbit.

Henbit, Lamium amplexcaule, is a prolific cool season weed that prefers the cool, moist soil November through March. It grows especially well in both dormant lawns and lawns that are freshly seeded and watered consistently. Henbit has an upright, spreading growth habit with furry lower leaves and, come late winter and early spring, tiny bright purple flowers that grow in whorls at the ends of their six-inch stems. You’ll typically notice them first by the tiny flowers which can emerge on even the tiniest of plants. Henbit doesn’t mess around; it’s trying to create seed and spread it as fast as it can!

Weeds have benefits, but it all depends on how you see them.

  • If you have a wildlife garden, hoping to attract birds, bees and butterflies, then many flowering weeds in winter and very early spring provide a food source for birds such as the sought after garden visitor, the hummingbird, and foraging bees.
  • Some weeds also help to control erosion where soil is bare due to mismanagement of a lawn.
  • And, though it’s part of the mint family, henbit does not give off a strong scent, but it is still an edible weed. Add to salads, stir into chilled soups, or blend into a smoothie to add an extra boost of iron, minerals and antioxidants

While all plants we call weeds can have their benefits, if henbit is taking over in your lawn there are some simple ways to reduce its population. Our maintenance crew can suppress the spread of henbit seeds by mowing your lawn early, on a higher setting, in order to remove the flowers from the plant before they can make seed. If the plants are allowed to go to flower and seed, you’ll just end up with more henbit.  Looking for a good excuse to get out in your garden? Henbit has a small loose root system and is easily pulled from both garden beds and lawns.

Over time, good maintenance and quality soil will reduce weeds, ultimately improving both the beauty and the health of your landscape.


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