Thirty Days in the Garden: Can You Spot the Imposter?

Weeds are imposters. They’re like a spy at a cocktail party, standing tall in their green suit, effortlessly blending in. To the untrained eye, they look like everyone else at the party.

They can’t fool this gardener. I’m a professional.

Not really, but as weeds go, I know things.

I’ve been uprooting the same half a dozen weed varieties in this garden for over twenty-five years. I know when they’ll appear in the garden, and I’ve learned ways to minimize them. Eradication, however, is futile. To garden is to weed.

Walkway to the right of the driveway, weeds running amok

I don’t mind weeding for the most part. I do it mainly by hand and at times find it therapeutic.

Walkway to the left of the driveway, more weeds

Oxalis, however, is a scourge. Oxalis grows along the walkway on both sides of the driveway. Dymondia grows between the paving stones. It’s described as “a dense mat that over time will choke out weeds.” Ha! The oxalis mocks me. It spreads its roots under the paving stones, then grows up through the dense planting. If flowers quickly, so if I don’t nip it in the bud, it quickly produces more weeds.

Weed-free Dymondia

Oxalis hides in other parts of the garden, but it’s easier to pluck when you can get at the roots. I have to be in a reasonable frame of mind to weed the walkway, knowing that the oxalis will live another day before I start.

Oxalis growing through the Dymondia.

Even the origin of this weed’s name sounds sinister:

Early 17th century via Latin from Greek, from Oxus ‘sour’ (because of its sharp-tasting leaves).

Lexico.com

Oxalis is native to North America. It grows in poor soil and needs very little water to survive. It flowers eight months of the year. It’s sounds like a garden darling if you’re fooled by this sort of thing.

Oxalis is easy to spot and remove when it grows elsewhere.

I know better. Yes, it’s a lovely green, but the oxalis has to go.

21 thoughts on “Thirty Days in the Garden: Can You Spot the Imposter?

  1. This is what I’ve been telling Shayne. I understand because I was once infatuated with it’s cheerful yellow flowers, so much nnocent looking in their simplicity. I refused to listen when more experienced gardeners warned me. Now I’m sadder but wiser.

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    • Oxalis is pretty when it flowers, and it love that shade of green. BUT, as you’ve learned, it will rule the garden once established. Someone once told me that its possible I brought home the oxalis with the ground cover. What can you do?

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  2. I have it just about everywhere in my yard!!! Luckily it pulls out easily, however, leaving tons of seeds for next year!! The struggle is real – I don’t know how I’ll ever get rid of it – been battling it for 22 years. Even in raised beds that had dirt not from my yard put in it and all my pots!!!

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    • More bad news, Bonnie: Oxalis spreads through the lawn by every way possible! It is adapted to thrive in practically every condition making it very hard to control. This weed grows rapidly by seed and spreads quickly as it matures. In fact, if you find Oxalis that has taken over a potted plant container there is a good chance that it is all one plant! This weed also produces many many MANY seeds. When other weeds release seeds, they could sit in the soil for years and years and never have the right conditions to germiniate. Oxalis is not like other weeds. Their seeds rapidly mature and there is no condition that will prevent them from doing so.

      It spread so easily: the wind, birds, even the act of pulling up the weed.

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  3. We have a similar problem with Lesser Celandine but it’s apparently a non-competitive weed, a lovely carpet of gold in February and provides early pollen for bees so we’re leaving it be for the moment. We have a bigger problem with the ground elder

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  4. It looks like clover doesn’t it? Why are weeds so flippin’ hardy? When everything else needs at least a little attention, water, staking or pruning to thrive, the persistent weeds just refuse to go away. Jim’s the lawn guy, week to week. But I am the relentless weed picker. I use a screwdriver to dig down deep and pull it out by it’s britches. Usually a dandelion and easy to spot or the dreaded thistle. Normally found by a thong-less foot first ! Nerds, they’re so pokey! Good Luck with the war against them lovely !! xK

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    • Ouch! Thistles are the worst. Talk about a built in defense system. Who or what would want to eat that? I don’t get them in my garden, but I see them growing on the trails. They are not to be trifled with. I have a tool similar to your screwdriver. It’s handheld, with a single forked tip. It’s my go-too for most weeds, though along that path, I’m mostly doing it by hand. xo

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  5. Later today, I plan to visit your 30 days in the garden series. I do want to start at the beginning, so I’ll search for that and see you in the garden!

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  6. Oh, oxalis 😩 It is a weed I battle too. Not only does it set seed, but the little bulbs on the roots will regrow when they are disturbed. A cunning foe! Boiling water can be one solution, but obviously you have to be careful of other plants.

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