Weeds – Common Mallow

Common mallow (Malva neglecta) is a broad-leafed, bushy weed.  They can grow all year, though I usually see them in the spring and summer.  They are deep-rooted and hard to pull once they’ve grown, so it’s best to pull when they’re young. Mallow reproduces by seed, which can lay dormant in the soil till the shell is nicked enough that water can get in – essentially, when the core gets enough moisture to begin growing.   “If allowed to mature to the point of producing seed, the amount of seed in the soil will cause increasing problems in future years.” (per UC Davis)

weeds - mallow plant

The most widespread of the weedy mallows in California are Malva neglecta (common mallow or cheeseweed), and M. parviflora (little mallow, which is also called cheeseweed). These two varieties look very similar. The easiest way to tell them apart is by the flower and fruit, which looks like a wheel of cheese, hence the name.

Mallow causes problems with farming equipment, houses pests and diseases that are harmful to crops, it can accumulate nitrates in such high quantities that it is poisonous to livestock, and poultry that consume the leaves or seeds can lay low quality eggs.

According to UC Davis, “There are no chemical controls available for home use that are effective for controlling mallows.”

Some mallow plants are grown with a purpose – these include cotton, hibiscus, and okra.



Sunset Western Garden Book

UC Davis Integrated Pest Management website:




Happy Gardening!


An Hour to Garden


Weeds – Purslane

Every spring I spend hours and hours planting annuals while pulling up the grasses and weeds that have encroached on the flower beds. Our budget doesn’t allow for annuals this year, so I’ve been rather lax in pulling the weeds.  We ultimately decided to let the chickens free-range in the back yard and focus on planting shrubs the hens and tortoise (read: miniature elephant) won’t destroy. They’ve done a wonderful job keeping the ground of the flowerbeds under control, but there are a few plants they don’t care for – purslane is one.

2014.06.12 AHTG - photo of purslane Portulaca_oleracea

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a prostrate, broad-leafed weed with fleshy leaves and small yellow flowers.  The leaves are often tinged in red, with a darker line of red along the back, top edge of the older leaves.  It reminds me of a succulent ground cover, though it doesn’t grow as thick as succulents usually do.  It thrives in damp or dry conditions and grows in warm weather.  Purslane pops up everywhere in the garden, but pulls easily from the ground so it isn’t difficult to control.

This year I had the chance to see purslane in flower and it’s very pretty.  I’ve battled with trying to grow a nice, lush ground cover in my flower beds for years.  Cinquefoil is beautiful and low growing, but it’s picky and doesn’t like the heat of my yard.  Thyme didn’t really take of last year and the chickens and/or tortoise have taken care of most of what did manage to grow.  And here pops up purslane – low growing, pretty flowers in the color I want, it’s low maintenance and loves the soil, water, and heat of my back yard. I’ve found my ground cover in a weed.

Happy Gardening!


An Hour to Garden


The best way to control weedy grasses is to eradicate as soon as you see young plants.  If they become established, it is best to dig them out, being careful to remove all the roots and stems as they can regrow from pieces that are left behind.  Spraying with regular house-hold vinegar may kill some of the weeds – please avoid using herbicides (especially Roundup) as they leave chemicals in the soil.

Continue reading “Weeds – Grasses”

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