By Kate Torpie, Garden Guides Contributor
Rumex acetosa, or garden sorrel, is a perennial weed that is often used in salads and as an herb. The leaves on this plant are arrow-shaped, and the flowers grow in burnt red cylindrical clusters. It flowers in mid-spring, and grows about 20 inches at its top height. Its leaves have also been used medicinally.
Sorrel grows in soil that drains well. It can be in full or partial light. Sorrel does need iron-rich soil to grow. Its flowers will bloom in mid-July.
Cultivation and Care
Garden sorrel prefers damp soil, although another commonly grown variation, French sorrel likes dry, open spaces. Sow seeds in March, about 6 inches apart. When the first branches grow in mid-July, trim them back so that the plant will grow new leaves, which will taste better.
Weed Control Techniques
Like most perennials, the roots are not terribly difficult to remove. If you want to remove sorrel from your garden, you should water the soil and remove them by hand while the soil is moist, as the roots aren't as difficult to remove when moist. Make sure you get the entire root system. If you need to use a fork to slip in under the plant, do so. You can also cultivate with a sharp hoe. Once the roots and leaves are chopped up, most young plants will die. Return after two days to pull any plants that started to grow. If you see adult plants (the mature plants have flowers), it's a good idea is to place a plastic bag over its head before removing,this will prevent the seeds from dispersing. Pulling and reducing seed production will work for controlling sorrel. So, too, will a broad-spectrum herbicide that affects the plant systemically. Please keep in mind that systemic herbicides may take longer to be effective. However, the end result will also last longer.