KC Gardens

What is this weed that overran my garden?

What is this weed?
What is this weed? Submitted

QUESTION: My garden was overrun with this, I'm assuming a weed, this year. What the heck is it? - Lori

ANSWER: The weed is Pokeweed. It is a perennial that has a very deep taproot, can grow very tall, and is poisonous. Birds eat the berries, and do a nice job of disseminating the seed. I have seen pokeweed everywhere this year, probably due to the amount of moisture and mild winter.

To deal with them now, since the plants are in your garden, I would first cut off the top part with the berries, and bag, to prevent any more seed from dropping. Next dig out the plants by hand. Remember to wear gloves.

Next spring, watch carefully for the emergence of this weed (they are fairly easy to identify: light green, often with reddish cast on the stem), and dig them out when they first emerge. Additionally, if you can protect the other plants in your garden from any drift, you can paint glyphosate on the pokeweed leaves. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, but it will not bind to the soil, so will not harm your other plants as long as glyphosate does not get on their leaves. As the pokeweed plants are at the end of their growth cycle, I doubt that they would take up much herbicide now. Best to dig them out.

As you know this is a very invasive weed, probably at or near the top of my least favorite. Good luck.

Carole Brandt - Johnson County Extension Master Gardener