Knowledge Page Elise Chalcraft

Weeds and what to do

This page will help you identify common weeds we see in the growbeds and how best to remove them / weed them out.

Here is the list of MediaMatic designated weeds that we do not want in the growbeds as they are invasive, unwanted, causing harm to wanted plants, or any other reason that classify the plant as a weed.

1. Bindweed (Convolvulus; Winde in Dutch)

Bindweed is a climbing vine and ultimately strangles surrounding plants as it climbs up and wraps itself around the plant. 

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Identifiable by:

- climbing, thread-like vines twisting around neighbouring plants

- arrow-head shaped leaves

- trumpet shaped flowers either white or a light pink

How to control it:

Bindweed can not be weeded out as a one time thing, as a climbing vine, it makes new roots whether a vine reaches along the floor. It has a large and hardy root system which means that it has a lot of root to backup new growth. Continuously weeding bindweed by cutting or pulling out the plant as close to the roots as possible forces the plant to put its energy into preserving its roots which will eventually kill it if done regularly.  

Bindweed is often found in places with poor soil quality or where there are few other plants. By improving soil quality or adding other aggressive growing plants that spread densely can help push out bindweed from taking over. 

2. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis; Paardenbloem in Dutch)

A common weed that produces highly wind-spreadable seeds.

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Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale Author:  Benjamin Zwittnig  

Identifiable by:

- Rosette of leaves sprouting from a long central root

- Milky white liquid released when damaged from hollow stalk. 

- The leaves are soft, narrow and lobed. A mid-to-dark green and sometimes pink especially near the base.

- Flower heads are yellow with thin outspread petals. The seed head is a large ‘clock’ made up of seeds with a long brown stalk below a white parachute to aid dispersal.

Reference: RHS.org

How to control it:

Dandelions flowers from March to October but the basal leaves are present all year round. Best practice to remove them if before the seed head with easily dispersed seeds appear to reduce more growing. Pull up gently at the base of the plant and wiggle if it is stubborn to try and get as much of the main root out. 

3. Bramble (Rubus fruticosus; Braamstruik in Dutch)

Brambles are a widespread species with long spiny stems that are native to a wide range of natural and man-made habitats. If not checked upon, brambles can form a wide-spreading thicket that can become impenetrable and thorny.

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There are over 300 recognised micro-species of brambles but can be identified quite easily by:

- long thorny/spiny stems with inter-dispersed thorns

- small white or pinkish flowers from June-September

- blackberries (from small green buds to ripe black berries), growing in clumps at the end of a stem.

- red stem or base of thorns can have a reddish colour

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How to control it:

- CAREFUL!! Brambles have long thorns that can cut even through gloves sometimes. Grasp the bramble gently and try and uproot it from the bottom. 

- Roots can be killed by frequent weeding. BUT, brambles reproduce by seed but can also regenerate from fragements of roots and stems therefore if the whole root is not taken out, it can regenerate. It is not enough to just cut the bramble near the ground as that will stimulate more growth along the lateral roots. 

- Wear gloves and cut back the brambles if they have formed a thicket, then return and pull up the roots of the brambles to prevent them from coming back. 

Fun fact about brambles:

Although commonly seen as a weed , brambles are highly valued for their blackberries, the leaves have medicinal uses and the roots can be used to make natural orange dyes. 

Reference: Garden Organic, Bramble

4. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica; Brandnetel in Dutch)

CAREFUL! Stinging Nettles get their name accordingly from the needle-like hairs on the underside of their leaves and stem.  Upon contact, the tip of the needle-like hairs (called trichromes) break off and release toxins. If stung, small white bumps that can itch and cause irritation appear on the skin. If the bumps continue to swell or a rash appears, go to the doctor as it may be an allergic reaction! 

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Identifiable by:

- long, hairy, serrated leaves, which grow opposite each other on tall, fibrous, hairy stems that can reach up to 2m tall

- often found growing in patches due to their stinging nature

- tiny greenish-yellow flowers bloom in the late summer that form seeds

- thin needle-like hairs on the underside of leaves and along the stem

- If you can't identify it, once stung by one, you will always remember what it looks like to avoid being stung again!

How to control it:

- Wear gloves for any contact with this plant

- Control for stinging nettles is difficult as they can spring back up from underground roots that can spread up to 1.5m laterally. The best is to remove as much of the root system if possible. If not, firstly cut or weed whack the stinging nettles back as close to the ground as possible then remove them when smaller. 

- Most solutions to control stinging nettles involve chemicals and pesticides but weed whacking and continuously cutting them back will eventually get rid of them. 

Reference: Controlling Stinging Nettles and BBC Stinging Nettle