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Nutsedge Organic Weed Control

Nutsedge weed
Nutsedge flower
Nutsedge flower

Nutsedge is a perennial plant that resembles a grass. It reproduces by seed and almond-shaped tubers at the end of running roots.

Description and Life Cycle:

  • Solid stems that are triangular in cross section (true grasses are hollow and round).
  • Grows 6 to 30 inches tall depending on variety.
  • Leaves grow from the base in grouped of three.
  • Leaf-like bracts radiate out below the flower cluster of spreading spikes.
  • Flowering stem can reach 30 inches tall.
  • Yellow nutsedge has light brown flowers and seeds; purple nutsedge flowers have a reddish tinge and the seeds are dark brown or black.
  • Reproduces by seed and underground rhizomes and globe-shaped tubers at the end of each rhizome.
  • Tubers (sometimes called ‘nutlets’) of yellow nutsedge are edible, sometimes called earth almonds.
  • Reproduces by rhizomes, tubers, and windborne seed.
  • Thrives in waterlogged soil but tolerates drought.

Root System: Nutsedge has a horizontal underground rhizome root system that can spread 10 feet in all directions from the crown of the plant. Rhizomes are underground stems. Nutsedge rhizomes grow as deep as 8 to 14 inches below the soil surface. Tubers are produced at the end of each rhizome; a tuber can sprout and grow a new plant.

Organic Control:

  • Remove nutsedge when young—less than 6 inches tall–before rhizomes spread.
  • Mature plants are more difficult to remove; rhizomes and tubers left in the ground can reproduce new plants. New plants can easily sprout 10 feet in all directions from the parent plant.
  • Dig down 14 inches to remove all roots.
  • Once plants and roots are removed cover the area with thick landscape fabric or cardboard topped with bark for at least one growing season.
  • Cultivate soil to expose rhizomes and tubers and let them dry out and die. Root parts left behind can sprout new plants.
  • Do not let nudsedge flower; cut the plant down before it flowers and seeds become windborne.

Scientific Name: Cyperus esculentus (yellow nutsedge); Cyperus rotundus (purple nutsedge)

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.

 

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. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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