As spring sneaks up on summer we are seeing a “bloom” of a pesky little weed known as Fireweed. Although some varieties of Fireweed produce beautiful, vivid flowers, it is an un-welcomed addition to residential lawns.

Fireweed is more difficult to control than broadleaf and grassy weeds. The roots of the Fireweed plant do not stretch down into the soil. Instead, the plant grows exclusively in the thatch layer. Because pre-emergent herbicides work in the soil, they are ineffective against Fireweed and other thatch-based weeds.
 Fireweed spreads through seeds carried from lawn to lawn by wind, rain, shared mowers, etc. Even if you didn’t see any Fireweed in your entire neighborhood last season, if the wind blew just right, you may have a healthy harvest this year. Since there is no way to control spreading of seeds and pre-emergent herbicides are ineffective your options for control are somewhat limited, but the plant will actually take care of itself.

Fireweed is a cool season weed. Once the hot, dry summer hits, Fireweed will cease to be an issue. In the meantime, a selective herbicide application is effective against plants that have already germinated, though it won’t keep more plants from germinating. The best course of action is to mow. By mowing often and keeping the plants short they do not have the opportunity to produce seeds, which will help to keep the weed at bay next year. Mowing also helps aesthetically. When the weed is short it isn’t as noticeable and will help you hold out until temperatures take care of the Fireweed for you.

If you can’t hold out until temperatures kill out the Fireweed, then contacting your lawn care company or visiting the weed control section at your local lawn and garden center may be in order. Just be careful that you don’t cause permanent damage trying to take care of a temporary weed.