If you notice a weed with tiny white flowers growing near the head, notably in the early spring months, then there’s a good chance you have hairy bittercress on your hands. This winter annual is part of the mustard family – and though it quickly dies out when temperatures begin to get too high, it can spread rapidly throughout your lawn or yard in the meantime.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at hairy bittercress, how to kill it and how to prevent it from growing in the first place. Here’s a closer look:
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Hairy Bittercress Identification
Hairy bittercress cardamine hirsuta, better known as just hairy bittercress, is among the winter annual weeds that are found in lawns and gardens primarily throughout the eastern United States. As one of the most difficult winter weeds to treat, this plant is early to sprout and can cause havoc to your lawn from early spring through late summer.
Characterized by tiny white flowers near the end of its flower stems, these flowers turn into seed pods. It’s these seed pods that then produce seed that can spread quickly throughout the soil surface in your lawn, starting the life cycle all over again with young seedlings when the weather warms after winter.
Hairy bittercress weed tends to prefer cool soil, and it’s known to spread quickly throughout lawns, flower beds and yards as temperatures increase from winter.
Interestingly enough, this pesky weed does have some benefits. As part of the mustard family, it’s edible. It’s also rich in antioxidants, which can make it a substitute for some cooking ingredients.
In most cases, however, property owners are going to want to eliminate the weed and its tiny flowers before seed dispersal takes place. In this post, we’ll discuss how to kill hairy bittercress and how to prevent it from taking over your turf areas.
How To Eliminate Hairy Bittercress
The good news about hairy bittercress compared to other broadleaf weeds is that it tends to be a short-lived weed. However, if you don’t attempt to kill or remove the hairy bittercress weed upon its arrival, it can spread seeds so that it returns year after year.
Here’s a look at how to kill hairy bittercress:
Hairy bittercress has a relatively shallow root system, so it’s fairly easy to pull these weeds out of the ground before they become too invasive in your lawn or garden. However, please note that this is typically a better option for removal in a garden or in landscaping.
Apply a post emergent herbicide
Look for a weed killer or postemergence herbicides like Trimec and herbicides containing 2,4-D ingredients such as EndRun. These are common ingredients found in broadleaf herbicides and are best applied in the late spring or in the early fall months to kill these weeds.
Mow your lawn frequently
If you notice that hairy bittercress has begun to grow in your lawn, mow frequently to remove the flower heads of the weed so it cannot lay its seeds. This is often enough to control the weed without commercial products or weed killer intervention until they die out when the weather gets warmer.
How To Prevent and Control Hairy Bittercress
Preventative action is always better than being reactive when it comes to dealing with lawn weeds, and hairy bittercress weed and other winter annuals are no exception. Here’s a look at how to prevent hairy bittercress from infiltrating your lawn in the first place:
Put down preemergence herbicides
Do this in the late summer before the seeds of this weed have a chance to germinate. A good pre emergent herbicide like Snapshot or herbicides that include ingredients such as Gallery and Ronstar. (Oxadiazon)
A healthy lawn is a key to a weed-free lawn – and certainly part of a healthy lawn is making sure that you’re feeding it regularly with fertilizer and that it’s receiving the water it needs to thrive. A lush, green lawn will snuff out weeds by not providing any place for them to grow.
Hairy Bittercress FAQs
When do hairy bittercress seeds germinate?
Hairy bittercress seeds often germinate in the early fall months, which is why it’s recommended that you apply pre-emergent herbicides on your lawn to proactively treat for this weed before the seeds have a chance to set.
Is hairy bittercress invasive?
Though it’s not considered an invasive species, it can spread quickly throughout your yard or lawn if it’s not addressed. The only good news about this winter annual weed is that it tends to die fairly quickly in the growing season, usually when temperatures become too hot.