The Scourge of the South-Virginia Button Weed

Rene Schmit  |  10/11/2012 11:30:25 PM

South-Virginia Button Weed

As there are many weeds that can invade lawn grasses and cause damage, perhaps there is none more invasive and destructive to southern lawns than Virginia Button Weed. Many will argue that Torpedo Grass is the most troublesome weed however, most lawn grasses can co-exist and even blend in with torpedo grass where Virginia Button Weed will totally smother out and kill large portions of a lawn area. Virginia Button Weed is known scientifically as Diodia virginiana and flourishes in low, moist areas of the lawn. Distinguishing characteristics of Virginia Button Weed include green lanced shaped leaves that are one half inch wide and grow opposite of each other; stems that are often reddish in color; and flowers that are white with four petals. Once established and left alone to multiply, Virginia button Weed will form a heavily dense canopy of foliage that will cover and eventually kill off the lawn grass. Even mowing at a one half inch height will have no effect on Virginia button Weed. Worse yet, when cut into pieces, wherever the pieces land on a new area of the lawn, it has the ability to produce a new plant.

It is virtually impossible to remove Virginia Button Weed by hand because of the deep root system of the plant and fragments left behind that can re-establish a new viable plant. The best and most effective control is through the use of a post-emergence herbicide. Lawn herbicide products that contain carfentrazone work well on Virginia Button Weed such as Fertilome Weed Free Zone or Ortho Weed B Gone Max. Both are rated for safe use on southern lawn grasses that include St. Augustine, Centipede, Zoysia and Bermuda. Quite often, 3 to 4 (or even more) applications may be necessary to provide a total kill and should involve spot treating where the weed is prominent rather than treating the whole lawn. Multiple treatments would involve spraying once every 12 to 14 days. Since Weed Free Zone and Weed B Gone Max are tri-mec formulas each containing 2-4D, these products should be used and applied only during early morning hours, preferably when the grass is still wet from dew and especially when there is no wind. These products should never be applied when ambient temperature is near or at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Always read the label to ensure a safe and effective application.

Virginia Button Weed is often referred to as the “Scourge of the South” and rightfully so because of its prostrate growth habit, extensive root system, aggressive growth and vegetative ability to reproduce. Control of Virginia Button weed can be successful but will require a nominal degree of persistence and patience. If Virginia Button Weed is a current problem in your lawn, taking action now will greatly reduce the population and its ability to re-emerge next spring.

Rene’ Schmit is the St. Charles Parish county Agent of the LSU AgCenter and can be reached at 985-785-4473.
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