Ask Phil – Spotted Spurge

This month’s “Ask Phil” question comes from J.W. –

Q: I’ve repeatedly picked out low-lying, flat tiny-leafed weeds I believe are called Spurge. They are tenacious, coming back and spreading rapidly. Any ways to combat them?

A: Hi J.W., it is good to hear from you. Spotted Spurge is a difficult weed to control. It is almost impossible to eradicate as the seeds are very tiny and can last several seasons in the soil, waiting to sprout. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you are into non-herbicide weeding, I suggest regular use of the Hula Hoe or similar method on a dry sunny day, before they set seed. That way you can leave them lying there and they will dry up. They set seed when they are bigger, and it is hotter. It is hard to tell if they are setting seed unless you get down and look at them up closely. If they are setting seed, then carefully pull them up and place them in your garbage container and do NOT place them on the ground to dry up.
  • This is a warm-season weed. If you are into herbicide spraying I would suggest using a lawn weed spray with a little Dawn soap in the mix to coat the foliage better. That should kill them, but it must be done repeatedly and do not do this around vegetables or fruits that you will eat. If they are seeding, then it will do NO good, because the seeds are still viable, and will all sprout this summer and next season.
  • Lastly, Spotted Spurge only gets about 2″ tall at most, so it cannot cover up plants that you want. They are just annoying flat to the ground weeds.

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