Controlling Velvetleaf Using Organic Gardening Techniques

Q&A - is there anything good about velvetleaf?  How do I control it?

Doug says


Velvetleaf is an annual weed growing from seed every year.  Reaching 3 to 8 feet tall or more,  the whole plant is velvety and soft and is completely covered with short, fine hairs.

The large heart-shaped leaves are usually 2 to 5 inches wide (but can get as large as 12-inches) and arranged alternately on the thick stem.  

This is mostly a problem for larger farms and not the home vegetable garden where it is easily pulled out in the spring or mulched and kept from germinating.  In extreme infestations of larger plants, the plants can be (and should be) cut to the ground to stop seed germination. Then the roots tilled and cultivated up to stop regrowth.

organic weed control
Velvetleaf courtesy Wikimedia

This plant is native to China where it is used as a fibre crop for making cord, ropes, binder twine and coarse cloth and papers.  I'm told the seeds are edible as well.

It is considered a noxious weed in warmer areas where its long growing season 85-90 days allows it to set seed.  In very cold regions, it will not likely have the ability to grow and set seed. Note the roots do not live over the winter but it self-sows to keep on reproducing.

In short, there is absolutely no reason to grow this plant unless you want to make coarse paper and it is considered a noxious annual weed in warmer areas.

Control is by cultivation - even on large commercial farms.

You can burn off the tops with an acetic acid organic herbicide such as 'Sharpshooter' or the home mixed alternative.

You can also use corn gluten (article about it) to stop the seeds from germinating.



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