A note about weeds—

First of all, ‘weed’ is the meaning of ‘kusa’ of ‘kusamono’ fame. The Japanese are being literal here, and ‘weed thing’ is what an accent plant is. Pluck your weeds, yes, but with some judgment…

Sometimes we don’t need to pull all weeds. There are three main times when we don’t. 1. If you have a tree that is weak, that weed might help dry the pot out a bit and prevent root rot. 2. I have been watching one weedy accent plant this year that has large broad leaves and it wilts easily when dry. It is a good heads up of when other things need watering, but don’t show that they do as readily. 3. Sometimes that weed is just a darling little thing and if you find pulling it is an act of grief, well then put it in a little pot and upgrade it to an accent plant. 

Otherwise, yes, pull your weeds… Because they can soak up the fertilizer like a sponge and leave your tree wanting. I remember one tree a fellow had in Arizona that had dark green mondo grass completely covering the soil surface, and the weedy juniper rising out of them was as yellow as a daisy. All the nitrogen was being sucked up by the mondo.

Keep your tweezers at the ready…



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  1. Mark says:

    Hi Michael,

    This summer I planted “Creeping Charlie”, the scourge of many suburban lawns including mine, into a hand made accent pot. I have grown it in a cascade style and enjoyed it all summer. My next weed project will have to wait until next year but it is appealing to me to continue this and find beauty in unexpected places. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

    Upstate New York

  2. Cheryl says:

    I pulled all the weeds on one tree and killed it. Apparently the weeds were the only thing between it and dieing of root rot that I had not noticed.

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