How To Get Rid of the Henbit Weed

 

Henbit weed (Lamium amplexicale) is an interesting kind of weed just like its cousin the Purple deadnettle both belong to the mint deadnettle family. And did you know that according to some folks, it got its name because chickens love to peck its flowers and leaves and eat it? But what makes the Henbit weed quite interesting is it also produces those attractive orchid-like, pinkish flowers that become purple during the spring season.  

Nevertheless, this weed does not look good in your lawn when you only want to see green grass. In other words, they will ruin the look of your well-groomed  turf because they grow long and scraggly. So how to prevent the henbit weed from growing in lawns will be the focus of our discussion today. We will also answer the common question if there is a weed killer for Henbit and is henbit poisonous to dogs.   

Basically, the henbit flowers are the only things we see good about this weed. Unlike the Purple deadnettle that have those purple reddish leaves in bunches, the Henbit flowers are the only exceptional parts of the Henbits. When in full bloom, their flowers can put a display of green, purple and pink colors on the ground. They would look good on vacant lots and along the side of the roads but on lawns. 

Some people also call it chickweed Henbit weed but the chickweed and the Henbit are of different weed varieties. Henbit belongs to the mint while chickweed belongs to the Carnation family.   

Difference Between Chickweed and Henbit Weed

So as not to mislead people, the Henbit and chickweed both germinate their seeds during late fall, survive the snow, and grow fast in the spring. But to recognize them quickly, the Henbit weeds have squarish stems and their leaves are small but rounded with deep veins and have marginal lobes. Their upper leaves are directly attached to their stems and the Henbit flowers can be purple with a pinkish tint and recognizable by their trumpet shape. 

The chickweed can be easily distinguished by its white flowers like star shape and its leaves are cleaner and plain, unlike the Henbits that look crumpled. These plants are edible and the leaves can be tossed to soups and stews and are mixed in making veggie salads. The Henbit’s leaves are also edible but be aware of what some people say that animals like horses, sheep, and cattle cause them to “stagger” when they eat too much of it. 

We got an interesting question as the Henbit weed is unpopular due to its effect on some livestock – Is Henbit poisonous to dogs?

Is Henbit Poisonous to Dogs? 

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Henbit deadnettle does not belong to the poisonous plants that grow in many parts of the world particularly in countries in the temperate region. However, the organization wants people to remember that humans and animals can have different reactions to certain kinds of organic material that some people consider as food. 

For example, chocolate can provide a beneficial effect on man as it can calm the nerves and relax our mood. But for dogs, chocolate can be toxic because of the caffeine and theobromine it contains. The same with Henbit which is known to be nutritious to humans as it is high in iron, fiber, and vitamins, and people put its leaves on their soups and salads while it can act as a laxative, diaphoretic, anti-rheumatic, an excitant, and a stimulant. 

So have you noticed the last two effects – an excitant and a stimulant? This means that the component of the Henbit weed has a positive effect on human metabolism and the nervous system but what could be the effect on the dogs? 

There is still no study about the Henbit to have a direct effect on dogs but as ASPCA said, some of the edible food that can be good for humans can also disturb the gastrointestinal tracts of certain animals particularly dogs who are very sensitive to stimulants. 

Again, is Henbit poisonous to dogs? We are still not sure but better be aware of it and this is one of the reasons why the Henbit deadnettle should not be in your lawns.  

What Are the Consequences of Growing Henbit in Lawn? 

The Henbit deadnettle like its cousin, the Purple deadnettle, grows favorably in spring but mature plants die in summer when exposed to sun, sprout their seeds in fall (autumn), become dormant in winter, and grow vigorously in spring again. So autumn is the best time for this weed to flower and bear fruits and spread its seeds on the ground. 

One Henbit weed can produce about 2,000 seeds in a single year and its seeds can germinate quickly once these settle on warm and moist soil. They also love the shade so they can be found commonly under the shrubs and trees where the grass seldom grows and where they can begin to slowly proliferate then creep into the grass as they drop their seeds. 

The Henbit weed is a kind of hardy plant (hard stems) and because it is considered a winter annual plant, its seeds can sprout even under the coldest weather. Its stems stand upright but it can produce roots on its lowest nodes to help them slowly creep into the topsoil while restricting the growth of the grass. In the middle of spring, they will form their flowers and bear fruit but as the summer begins to creep in, they begin to drop their seeds on the ground and most of the mature weeds will die in the summer heat. 

If you look closely at the life cycle of the Henbit weed, it just comes and goes but before you know it, it will start to creep into your lawn especially during the active reproductive stage. And this is why this weed is treated as an unwanted plant particularly on commercial and public turf like golf courses and parks. It can kill the grass, deplete the soil of its nutrients, and is quite hard to kill though there are still effective ways to kill it. 

How to Prevent Henbit  Deadnettle to Grow and Spread in Lawns

Experts suggest that to better prevent the Henbit weed from spreading, best to kill it before it bears flowers. You can buy lawn weed killers on agricultural supply stores that are specially formulated to kill many types of weeds that include Henbit but the chemical components of these should not damage the lawn or the grass itself. 

You could also try applying some weed control cultural practices like the following: 

🌿 Choose a variety of grass that grows thick quickly. This will prevent the Henbit weed seedlings from growing as they will be deprived of light and nutrients. Fertilize your lawn about 4 times a year to make it grow vigorously, thick and strong. 

🌿 Mow the grass before the Henbit weed starts to bear flowers and at a lower height. Then fertilize and irrigate your lawn so that the grass can grow faster and outcompete the Henbit’s growth.

🌿 Check your lawn regularly and pull out any new growth with your hand to control its young population. However, though this can work on backyard or front yard lawns, this may be laborious to do on large lawns.   

🌿 If you have a newly established lawn, check the area surrounding your lawn. Remove or pull the Henbit weed that you see as much as possible or cut it out before they bear flowers and fruit. If the nearby area is not part of your property, talk to the owner if they can trim their Henbits to prevent them from creeping into your lawn.  

🌿 After mowing the grass and mowing down the Henbit before they bear flowers, spray the grass where the Henbit grows with a pre-emergence organic herbicide but make sure you only choose the “selective herbicides for broadleaf”. 

🌿 Selective herbicides can kill weeds with broad leaves because they are made to stop the metabolic process of broadleaf plants. However, be careful in its application because flowering plants nearby can also be killed by these herbicide types. Visit your local agricultural supply store to know more about the right selective herbicides.   

On the other hand, if you want a quick result to control Henbit proliferation, we also have the chemical control measures to turn to and there are a lot of selective products to choose from. But which weed killer for Henbit is best to rely on?

What Weed Killer for Henbit is the Best?

Based on the experiences of those who manage huge lawns, the practice of applying cultural control should be done first before shifting to the use of selective organic herbicides to kill the Henbit weed. However, the use of chemical control is still necessary not only to reduce the weed’s population but to stop the production of its seeds. Therefore, the best time to apply chemical herbicides is during the early spring or fall for maximum results. So don’t forget that the Henbit weed is a hardy plant and as it matures it will be more difficult to kill.

There are different kinds of lawn grass but each grass can have different reactions to herbicides. In that case, you should choose carefully your herbicide based on the turf varieties you’re managing. The use of 3-way herbicides can help and the most effective herbicides can compose any of the following herbicide components:

2, 4-D (dichlorophenoxyacetic acid)

The 2, 4-D is an organic herbicide that can kill a wide variety of broadleaves including Purple deadnettle and the Henbit weed and a lot of herbicides manufactured in different countries today are combined with 2,4-D. As a component of many weed killers, it is best to apply on Henbit weed once in the spring and once in the fall. 

Dicamba.

 This herbicide is another effective weed killer that is selective and sometimes this is combined with the 2,4-D to make the herbicides stick better to the weeds. Both Dicamba and 2,4-D do not affect narrow-leaf plants like grass, rice, lemongrass, and other plants. And they are also not poisonous to pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Mecoprop (MCPP)

This herbicide is also chemically known as methyl chlorophenoxy propionic acid or MCPP. This is used on many herbicides to kill  the common lawn broadleaf weeds. Most often, it is also combined with 2,4-D or dicamba or with the MCPA. But the best time that MCPP could best be used is during the pre-emergence stage of the broadleaf weeds. 

 MCPA.

Known in the chemical world as 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid, this is also a strong selective herbicide that is commonly used in agriculture to kill broadleaf weeds on cereal crops. Moreover, it is now being used as an ingredient among popular herbicides to kill Henbit weed and other invasive weeds but is still safe for the environment and wildlife. 

So if you’re buying selective  herbicides that can kill Henbit weed or the Purple deadnettle, look for any of these chemicals on the label and you’re on your way to eradicating even other types of broadleaf weeds. However, don’t hesitate to ask the seller in the store which herbicide is the most tested and most effective for killing broadleaf weeds like the Henbit.  

Conclusion on How To Get Rid of the Henbit Weed:

The Henbit weed and the Purple deadnettle may seem hard to control because they can grow anywhere and they can survive in any type of environment. This is why they are considered some of the toughest annual weeds to eliminate. But with the proper application of cultural, natural, and chemical control, you can still kill them right on their tracks. 

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