If you’re a lawn and garden homeowner, then you know that weeds are an inevitable part of the gardening process. One such weed is velvetleaf, which is an incredibly invasive and aggressive weed that can quickly take over your lawn and garden if you let it spread.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to identify velvetleaf, as well as how you can safely get rid of it.
What Is Velvetleaf Exactly?
Known by its scientific name Abutilon theophrasti, as well as Chinese Jute, Crown Weed, or Button Weed, Velvetleaf is an invasive weed species within the Mallow family that reproduces annually. It is native to southern Asia, but is now found in many different countries throughout the entire world.
Known as Chinese Jute, Velvetleaf has been cultivated since around 2000 BCE, and still is to this day, for its strong fibers. These fibers can be used to make rope, cloth, nets, and paper. It is also an edible weed, and both the seeds and leaves are eaten in different dishes throughout southeast Asia.
How Does Velvetleaf Grow and Where?
Velvetleaf is a very aggressive and invasive species of weed. It is considered a weed dangerous to crops in the midwest and northeast United States and eastern Canada, as well as the eastern Mediterranean.
Velvetleaf is a highly competitive plant that can even take nutrients and water from plants and crops that grow next to it. One of the most devastating weeds to corn production, it can reduce crop yield by up to 34% and cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year in damages. Also, because it is so tall, it can shade plants around it, damaging them further.
Velvetleaf is most common in areas with disturbed soil. This encourages the dormant seeds in the earth to come closer to the surface, which allows for growth when the soil is at an optimal temperature.
One weed can produce between 700 and 44,200 seeds, and each seed takes between 17 and 22 days to develop once germinated. In order for the seeds to successfully germinate, the temperature should be between 24-30°C. When kept in a dry place or in the soil, seeds may last up to 50 years.
Velvetleaf germinates in the spring and flowers in the summer.
What Does Velvetleaf Look Like?
The velvetleaf plant is a fast-growing weed that can be identified by its heart-shaped leaves and yellow flowers. It can grow up anywhere from 3 feet to 8 feet high, so it will certainly stand out in your yard if you’re looking for it.
The leaves are large and shaped like a heart and they have pointy tips.
The leaves are attached to long, thick stems and emit an odor when crushed, and they grow at various places alternating down the main stem.
The flowers of the velvetleaf plant are yellow, with five petals, and they can grow up to an inch in diameter.
How To Eliminate Velvetleaf From Your Garden
Identifying that you have velvetleaf in your lawn or garden is half the battle. Now you’ll need to know how to get rid of it.
First, you should never put down weed-nourishing plants or mulch, as this will encourage velvetleaf growth. Instead, try to keep the area around your plants free of debris and do not over water them. Also, make sure any weeds around your plants are removed as soon as possible because they will compete with your grass and beneficial garden plants.
Next, there are few ways you can set out eradicating velvetleaf; you can use organic or chemical means. Most control methods will need to be applied over multiple years in order to be totally successful.
Individual stems must be dug up or plucked out manually rather than tilled or plowed to avoid seed germination. You must pull up all the plants before they flower and go to seed, so getting rid of them early is important.
Velvetleaf may also be mowed when the plant is still tiny for a more convenient removal procedure.
You can also use a homemade weed killer such as boiling water and dish soap. Boil a pot of water and then add a few tablespoons of dish soap.
Pour the mixture on each individual plant while it’s young, but be sure to avoid any desirable plants. This method will need to be repeated at least once every three weeks for as long as you have velvetleaf in your garden.
Luckily, even though velvetleaf is very aggressive and harmful to plants, it is controllable by herbicides, so there’s hope! Weed killers with 2,4-D are commonly used to treat velvetleaf, such as the Southern Ag Crossbow Specialty Herbicide.
You can also use a weed killer with glyphosate, which is even more of a potent chemical mixture and could be more effective, but you would also have to be very careful when using it because it is non-selective, meaning it can harm your other plants and lawn grass. A great glyphosate-based herbicide is this Compare-N-Save Concentrate.
How Does One Stop Velvetleaf Before It Grows?
To stop a new infestation from ever happening in your garden, there are a few things you can do before it grows out of hand. The best way is prevention! You can use mulch or black plastic to stop light from reaching the seeds on the ground – these won’t germinate without sunlight. Controlling other weeds around your garden can help as well because velvetleaf likes to grow near them.
Additionally, healthy lawn routines can go a long way in preventing velvetleaf infestations. Keeping your grass cut at the right height, not over watering it, and keeping debris out of your lawn will help keep weeds like velvetleaf away.
As you can see, velvetleaf is an invasive weed that has the potential to ruin your garden. We have covered multiple options that may help control this pesky plant if applied correctly.
Whether you choose organic or chemical methods of removal, it’s important to be persistent and vigilant in order to get rid of this pesky plant for good! Good luck with all your gardening and weeding endeavors!