henbit weeds with purple flowers

Henbit vs Creeping Charlie (Lawn Weed Differences & Similarities)

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Written By: Mark Marino

a Massachusetts Core Applicator License holder and owner/operator of Lawn Phix,

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Spring weed control can be tricky when it comes to look-alike weeds like henbit and creeping charlie. While these invasive weeds might share some similar traits, they are quite different and, as such, require a different approach to get rid of them from your lawn and garden beds. The first step to control creeping charlie and henbit is to learn how to properly identify each weed if it pops up in your yard. The following information can help.

What Are the Differences Between Henbit and Creeping Charlie?

Henbit, like purple deadnettle (another look-alike weed that may sprout up in the spring with these), is a winter annual weed. Creeping Charlie, sometimes called creeping jenny or ground ivy, is a perennial weed. Henbit and purple dead nettle will lay their seed and die during spring, creeping charlie will bloom in spring and continue to grow through the fall. 

Another difference is that even though henbit, purple dead nettle, and creeping charlie are each a member of the mint family, creeping charlie is the only one producing a strong mint fragrance. Look at the leaves if you’re still struggling to tell the difference between henbit and ground ivy, which both produce purple flowers like purple dead nettle. The leaves of henbit have fine hairs, while creeping charlie leaves are smooth.

What Are the Similarities Between Henbit and Creeping Charlie?

As mentioned, henbit, creeping charlie, and purple dead nettle are all members of the mint family. Additionally, each attracts pollinators, like honey bees and bumble bees, with their flowers. The henbit and creeping charlie flowers are also similar; each produces purple funnel-shaped flowers. Purple dead nettle also produces purple funnel-shaped flowers, which can make identifying them difficult in the spring. Other similarities between ground ivy and common henbit include their leaves, which are both heart-shaped with scalloped edges and grow well in shady areas.

What Is Henbit?

Henbit, known botanically as Lamium amplexicaule, is a winter annual and edible plant. It got its name because chickens love to eat it. Henbit has a sprawling growth habit and tends to grow low to the ground from a shallow taproot. The plant is perched on a green square stem that tends to turn purple in spring when the weed reaches its maturity. It also produces purple flowers in the spring along with upwards of 2,000 seeds.

Henbit has an aggressive growth habit, which makes it tough to control. New plants can grow from its seeds or roots. It’s not uncommon to find henbit growing in fields or roadsides as well as lawns and flower beds. While some people plant it as ground cover, especially in sloped areas for erosion control, it’s largely unwanted in yards because of its ability to spread aggressively. 

You can identify henbit by its slightly hairy heart-shaped leaves. The green leaves form in opposite pairs and look slightly wrinkled. They have scalloped edges and grow more closely together near the top of the plant than bottom leaves. Like purple dead nettle, Henbit produces tiny purple flowers in the spring. To tell this weed from dead nettle, keep in mind that purple dead nettle leaves are more triangular.

Henbit is an edible plant. Its leaves, stems, and flowers can be eaten. Many people make henbit tea, for example. On the other hand, only the leaves are considered edible when it comes to purple dead nettle and creeping charlie. 

The best control method for henbit is to use a pre-emergent herbicide like Barricade Prodiamine or Dithiopry; apply it in late summer or fall to prevent weed seeds from germinating. To kill actively growing plants, you can use a post-emergent herbicide containing 2,4-d – like T-Zone. Although you might try hand-pulling this weed, remember that any root leftover or seeds will lead to new plants. Many gardeners find that it takes more than one growing season to get rid of henbit from their lawn and flower beds for good.

What Is Creeping Charlie, aka Ground Ivy?

Creeping charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is a herbaceous perennial weed that grows on creeping stems. A new plant can emerge where each stem touches the ground. Some people creeping charlie as ground cover. However, this plant is a tenacious spreader and can overtake your lawn or flower beds if left unchecked. There are many common names for ground ivy, including creeping charlie, creeping jenny, field balm, mint charlie, gill over the ground, gill on the ground, and catsfoot.

Creeping charlie features green kidney-shaped leaves with scalloped edges and, of course, its purple flowers. Ground ivy flowers are funnel-shaped and attract pollinators just like the tiny flowers of dead nettle and henbit. Creeping charlie’s kidney-shaped leaves are green and smooth and produce a strong mint fragrance. Creeping charlie thrives in shady spots with moist soil.

Because of its creeping stems that root easily in the soil to form new plants, ground ivy is much more difficult to control than henbit. Since ground ivy is a perennial plant, it cannot be eradicated by a pre-emergent herbicide like henbit can. To kill creeping charlie, you will need to use a broadleaf post-emergent herbicide. You may need to resort to a non-selective herbicide (Round-Up) for a severe infestation, though it will kill other plants growing in the vicinity of the ground ivy. 

Henbit and Creeping Charlie FAQs

Is henbit the same as creeping charlie?

No. Henbit is a winter annual while creeping charlie, aka ground ivy, is a perennial plant. Although both henbit and ground ivy are members of the mint family, they are quite different in their growth habit and life cycle.

How do I know if I have henbit?

Since henbit looks like other plants like purple dead nettle and ground ivy, you should look for unique identifying features such as its heart-shaped leaves that are slightly hairy. 

What other weeds look like creeping charlie?

Henbit and purple dead nettle look very similar to ground ivy. Creeping charlie thrives in shady moist soil like henbit. 

Is henbit a good ground cover?

Some people find henbit to be an attractive ground cover with its tiny flowers that bloom in spring. Although it does not spread as aggressively as ground ivy, it will spread, so if you plant it as a ground cover, be sure to keep it away from your lawn and flower beds or it’s likely to spread there.

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Author's Note: this piece has been updated for accuracy since its first publication on
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Author: Mark Marino
My name is Mark Marino, and I am the founder, owner, and operator of Lawn Phix. With a passion for lawn care and turf nutrition for over a decade, I've dedicated countless hours to correcting soil and perfecting lawns. Today, my expertise, backed by formal courses at UMass Extension Pesticide Education, allows me to offer top-tier lawn care services and advice. I am a fully licensed and insured lawn care applicator in Massachusetts, specializing in comprehensive turf nutrition, weed control, and lawn pest control. My license number is AL-0053865. Contact me at [email protected] or +1 (508) 500-8402.

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