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Nutsedge Weed

By Contributor ; Updated September 21, 2017

General Characteristics

Nutsedge is a member of the Cyperus genus, with purple (Cyperus rotundus) and yellow (Cyperus esculentus) nutsedge varieties being the worst of the genus. Both purple and yellow nutsedges are perennial plants and the only plants of the genus that grow from tubers. Nutsedge is usually found in landscaped and turf areas growing in clumps. Nutsedges produce editable chufas or root tips and can grow 1 to 4 feet tall with spike-like clusters in the late summertime.

Growing Conditions

Growing all over North America, nutsedges prefer moist, sunny areas. They can be crowded out of space by mulch or other plant growth.

Cultivation and Care

Young nutsedge plants can be pulled by hand. Allow the plant and root to dry in the sun for a full day before composting. Cut larger plants at ground level before the heads begin to seed. Till under large areas to destroy tubers in the fall.

Weed Control Techniques

  • To date, there is no single herbicide effect for both varieties of nutsedge in flower gardens. Most available herbicides are for pre-emergent plants, so knowledge of which type of nutsedge, either purple or yellow, is important before using any type of herbicide. Overuse can also destroy the ornamentals that surround the nutsedge. Halosulfuron-methyl is a new herbicide on the market that is being used to control both yellow and purple nutsedges in grassy or turf areas. Glyphosate can also be used since both of these herbicides are post-emergent applications. Organic methods of dealing with nutsedges, whether yellow or purple, include weeding and cultivation around any ornamental flowers or other areas that herbicides can not be used. Organic herbicides work best on young plants and cannot effectively control established colonies of nutsedge. Ingredients in organic herbicides include clove oil, acetic acid and citric acid work best on a wide range of young broadleaf weeds. To avoid damage to neighboring plants, any herbicide should be sprayed when the wind is calm and the sun is hot. The area should be dry and the temperature should be at least 70 degrees. Care should be taken as even organic herbicides can damage the soil if applications are repeated too often. In lawn situations, regular mowing works best to control both yellow and purple nutsedge. By keeping the plants mowed low to the ground, the plant's food source is cut off and the tuber will eventually die. Any plants in areas not accessible by the mower can be dealt with using garden shears or a weed trimmer. If seed bearing plants are trimmed or mowed, collect all clippings and dispose of the debris in a shady area or allow to heat inside plastic lawn bags to kill the seeds.

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