Foxtail Organic Weed Control

Foxtail weed

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Foxtail is an annual plant that grows as a weed in lawns, vegetable and ornamental gardens, orchards, and vineyards. The seedlings look much like annual grasses.

Botanical name: Setaria glauca, S. viridis

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Foxtail weed

Foxtail descriptions and life cycle

  • Foxtail stalks grow 1 to 3 feet tall.
  • Erect stem; branches close to the base.
  • Leaf blades are smooth and flat less than ½ inch wide with a spiral twist; distinct hairs grow at the base of leaves.
  • Flower spikes are hairy; with several spikelets on each terminal.
  • Seed heads are dense bushy spikes 1 to 5 inches long with yellow or red-brown bristles and large seeds.
  • Flowers early summer to late summer.
  • Reproduces by seed; seeds can sit dormant through winter and then germinate in spring.
  • Foxtail prefers rich soil and newly cultivated areas.

Foxtail root system

Ragweed has a shallow taproot that produces a fibrous root system.

Foxtail organic controls

  • Hand pull or hoe small plants in spring.
  • Dig out mature plants, taproots and all with a trowel or shovel; remove entire clumps of plants.
  • Do not let plants flower and set seed. Foxtail reproduces by seed.

 Foxtail range

Foxtails grow throughout the United States and southern Canada.

Four quick ways to control weeds

  1. Weed early. Control weeds in the first month after they germinate.
  2. Weed often. Hand weed every two weeks through the season.
  3. Weed by hand when the soil is wet (best to get roots).
  4. Use a hoe if the soil is dry. Decapitate weeds before they flower and drop seed.

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Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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