Canadian County OSU Extension Service

Purple Pastures

Have you noticed the color of spring? Many people associate green as the color of spring; however around here I would argue the color is purple.  The beautiful native redbuds will soon be blooming only to have the same purplish color reflected back from the ground by the henbit plant. 


Henbit is the small plant that is currently blanketing roadsides, pastures, and parks with its purple flowers.  Up close it presents a rather unimpressive floral display, but in undisturbed locations where it has been allowed to grow freely it creates quite a picture. 


Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), a member of the mint family, is a cool-season broadleaf annual and is usually considered a weed.  However, unlike its mint relatives, it does not have a strong or distinct odor.


Although this winter weed may be pretty from a distance, if you did not pre-emerge against winter weeds in the fall and are tired of looking at it in your lawn, the best solution at this time is simply to mow your lawn. 


Cutting your bermuda at about a 1.5-2” height will remove the flowers from the henbit preventing it from going to seed and because henbit is a cool-season annual, the existing plant will soon die.  Mowing your lawn at a lower height in the spring will also allow the emerging bermuda to quickly flourish as the temperature get warmer. 

If you are looking for a chemical solution, some the most commonly used herbicides for controlling broadleaf weeds are 2,4-D,  plus MCPP (mecoprop), or DPC (Dichloprop).


These post-emergence herbicides selectively control most winter and summer broadleaf weeds in turf. However, at this time they will be less effective on henbit because it is nearing the end of its lifecycle.


To increase the variety of weeds controlled by these products, many broadleaf weed killers are a mixture of these herbicides. These herbicides are safe on established bermuda grass, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and zoysiagrass.


These three related chemicals, 2,4-D, MCPP, and DPC, are relatively immobile in the soil and pose little threat to nearby trees and shrubs from root absorption. Most chemical residue in the soil is dissipated in three to four weeks. However, shrubs, trees, and vegetables can be damaged by drifting vapors or spray. Use caution when spraying them around susceptible plants and choose a time when the wind is minimal (less than 5 mph).


As always it is important to read the label carefully and follow the labeled directions. 


Until next time - STOP, LOOK, and ENJOY!

~ Casey


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments cooperating. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability or status as a veteran and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  The information given herein is for educational purposes only.  References made to commercial products or trade names are with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.


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