- Author: Erin Mahaney
When it recently rained for days in a row, I stood at the window and watched my weeds grow. I have quite the variety of weeds, as I suspect we all do, but some I don’t really mind. For example, Oxalis is extremely invasive, but it is somewhat pretty and is almost enjoyably easy to pull up from the soil. Even if I don’t always get all of the bulbs like I should, at least I can hold some hope that I’m weakening the bulbs by pulling up the rest of the plant. Plus, Oxalis goes dormant with the summer heat. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
But my least favorite? The wild onion, Allium triquetrum, which is also known as the three-cornered leek. It’s not an ugly weed—in fact, it is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental. It has flower stems of about 1 foot tall, with nodding clusters of small, bell-shaped, white flowers. Not surprisingly, it has a strong onion smell.
The wild onion multiplies quickly, spreading by bulbs and seeds, and it is very hard to remove once established. Like Oxalis, it can be controlled by digging up the entire plant, including the bulbs. But unlike Oxalis, which pulls up easily (thus giving me a false, yet satisfying, sense of accomplishment), wild onion snaps at the soil level every time I try to pull it up. So the entire plant must be dug up, which is difficult to do given the extent of its spread throughout the yard, its proximity to other more desirable plants, and the depth to which I must to dig. And I think that’s what I find so aggravating about the wild onion. I could quit work and dig wild onions for the rest of my days, but I’m still fairly sure that I will not prevail. It spreads so quickly and so thoroughly! So at best, I try to content myself with digging a few plants and snapping off the flower stalks so that the plants don’t spread even more via seed. I know there are worse weeds, but this wild onion is the one onion that makes me want to cry.
- Author: Marime Burton
I know it’s spring regardless of the weather. The oxalis (Oxalis stricta) also known as yellow wood sorrel, is trying to take over ... and doing an excellent job of it.
The pretty little yellow blossoms we called sour grass when I was growing up are not nearly as much fun to taste as they once were. They are decidedly less welcome now that I’m an adult trying to keep them from commandeering every available spot in my yard. They even come right up through the sand in the sandbox.
An herbaceous perennial, oxalis is found in fields, wooded areas and of course, our lawns and flower beds. The word “perennial” means it may go away for awhile when the weather’s really cold or really hot, but when conditions improve Oxalis is ready for duty. It can discourage the most fervent gardener.
Most of us spend at least some time pulling it out of the ground. It responds cheerfully by coming back better than ever. Digging it out is marginally more effective but the digging may need to go much deeper than we think to get every part of the plant. I tried sheet mulching a few years ago, which showed promise. Unfortunately, the area I covered was circular and I learned the hard way the importance overlapping the cover material. A circular design requires careful overlapping of layers to assure absolutely no light reaches the plants.
Oxalis has an uncanny ability to pop up a new plant just as you stop to admire an otherwise weed-free garden. Maybe it’s best to bow to the inevitable and cultivate an appreciation for that bright yellow presence with its shamrock leaves. After all, St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner!