Skip Richter, based in Houston, is a popular speaker for garden clubs, Master Gardener programs, and other gardening events across Texas. He has...Full Bio


The latest in Virginia buttonweed control

Virginia buttonweed has become one of the most frustrating weeds found along the Gulf Coast.  But it can be dealt with! 

I promised GardenLine listeners last weekend that I would do a little research on some newer products that are labeled to fight this invasive weed.  And while I found a few beyond those usually recommended, I can’t guarantee that any of them won’t damage a lawn if applied in the kind of heat we are experiencing.

The standard Virginia buttonweed control is still the best - not just according to me, but based on the findings of other experts in herbicides. It essentially calls for removal of the infestation until the use of a cool-season herbicide is permissible.

The cool-season herbicides that I’ve touted for years are Fertilome Weed Free Zone and Bonide Weed Beater Ultra. But using them now will flat out kill all other grasses because of the high heat.  So, until late October, you’ll need to pull out all the Virginia buttonweed you can.  You can make it a daily or weekly routine.  When you walk the dog, pull some out.  When you check the mail, yank out some more.  In my estimation, it is better to pull out what you can, when you can, than allow it to overwhelm an area.

The only other tactic I have ever felt comfortable with is the use of AgraLawn Crabgrass Control, but using it is tedious. The organically derived powder is effective, but you have to wet the blades (preferably with just surfactant) and treat each one individually.  It’s also easy to waste the powder, making it the least cost-effective of all the regimens.

You may be expecting me to reveal some new and innovative herbicide that will wipe out the troublesome weed right now. But my investigation didn’t turn up any “silver bullets.” And no empirical research shows the products below won’t be destructive on existing grasses such as St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia in high heat. 

Be aware, too, that a couple of these are ridiculously expensive compared to the recommended cool-season herbicides on a per-ounce basis. It’s also worth noting that most of them will never be found at chain stores.  In fact, the expensive ones will likely only be found at feed stores, specialty garden shops or mom-and-pop nurseries and garden centers.  And if they don’t have any of the products in stock, they can easily order them - something national and regional vendors can’t do.

  • Top Shot Herbicide (Probably the most cost-effective)
  • Fahrenheit
  • MSM Turf (often called Manor)
  • Manor
  • Celsius (Known to be the most expensive)

 If you feel like giving them a try, I’d be excited to hear some listener “case studies.” Call me this weekend or send me an email if you are inclined to “trial-and-error” any of them.

BUTTONWEED PHOTO: Casey Reynolds, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

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