25 Common Florida Weeds
Florida homeowners enjoy year-round great weather—but with that comes year-round weeds that ruin the look of your lawn and they can affect the health of your grass. In most cases, Florida lawn weeds are faster and hardier than our grass which makes them difficult to bring under control. In order to stand a chance against invading weeds, you need to be able to identify them.
Some of the most common weeds found in Florida include:
- Bermuda Grass
- Broadleaf Plantain
- Bull Thistle
- Butterfly Weed
- Florida Beggarweed
- Florida Pusley
- Joe Pye Weed
- Stinging Nettles
- Yellow Woodsorrel
- White Clover
Planting Bermuda grass is very tolerant to heat, drought, and high foot traffic. So it is no wonder why it has become a popular grass for lawns, golf courses, and football fields here in the South.
It is great for quickly establishing new lawns because of its rapid growth, ability to out-compete common Florida weeds, and a high tolerance for pests and disease. The problem with Bermuda grass is that it can get out of control very quickly. Left unchecked, it can invade vegetable gardens, flower beds, paver patios, driveways, and even your neighbor’s lawn.
Plantains are perennial, broadleaf weeds that can be found in compact or nutrient-poor soils; Broadleaf plantains are a common weed in yards, nurseries, and landscapes. They germinate in late spring through mid-to-late summer. It grows low to the ground making it able to avoid most lawnmower blades. Pre-emergent herbicides are the best method to control broadleaf plantains.
Bull thistle is a non-native plant that comes from Europe and Asia. Like most thistles, bull thistle starts low to the ground and if left unchecked can grow up to 6 feet tall. Like their American cousins, they produce purple flowers and have tiny thorns along with their leaves and stems. Bull thistles enjoy open areas of full sun and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. They are commonly found along roadsides, ditches, trails, logged areas, pastures, and cultivated land.
Butterfly weeds are native to North America and a cousin to the milkweed. Butterfly weed is an attractive plant that produces bright orange, yellow, or red flowers all summer long. The nectar and pollen in its flowers attract beneficial insects to your gardens such as hummingbirds, bees, and of course lots of butterflies. They are a must-have for any butterfly garden.
Buttonweed is an annoying broadleaf weed in turfgrass that is common throughout the southeastern United States. Buttonweed grows deep roots making it hard to pull up by hand. It grows best in moist to wet soils and can tolerate low mowing heights. Buttonweed is easy to spot by its white tubular flowers and four star-shaped petals. Buttonweed spreads by creeping roots which makes controlling it by pre-emergents useless. The best way to control buttonweed is by maintaining a healthy lawn to prevent invading broadleaf weeds.
Chickweed is a perennial that grows in winter and can tolerate a wide range of soils. Chickweed grows best in soils with high nitrogen content and neutral pH balance. Chickweed is found in the north and central parts of Florida. It begins to germinate in December and January and will continue to re-grow annually. To control chickweed in Florida, use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to prevent any seeds from germinating. Post-emergent weed control can be used after the weed has already established itself in your lawn.
Crabgrass is one of the most common weeds that plague Florida lawns. Crabgrass is tough and can stand up to heavy foot traffic and can avoid mower blades. Homeowners can spend all year trying to control crabgrass but there is a reason this weed is notoriously tough. Crabgrass tolerates soils high in nitrogen, which is found in most fertilizers. When you fertilize your Florida lawn, you are also feeding the crabgrass. It is best to prevent crabgrass in the spring with the application of pre-emergent herbicides.
Dallisgrass is not native to the United States. Instead, it comes from Uruguay and Argentina. It was introduced to the United States in the 19th century as a forage plant for livestock because it could survive our southern climate. Dallisgrass has since exploded across the south and thrives in Florida lawns. Dallisgrass control is a three-pronged approach that involves maintaining a healthy lawn, pre-emergent weed control in the spring, and post-emergent weed control throughout the year.
Dandelions are one of the most common and easily identifiable weeds in the world. They are native to Eurasia and were first brought to America when the first settlers arrived in the 1600s as a salad green. Since then they have spread out of control to every corner of the country and every corner of your yard. Dandelions grow a strong taproot that grows vertically into the ground, making it very hard to pull by hand. To control dandelions use pre-emergents in the spring before the weeds begin to grow.
Dollarweed, also known as Pennywort, is a warm-season perennial weed. It gets its name from its silver–dollar-shaped leaves. The presence of dollarweed is a good indicator that your yard is getting too much water. You can reduce dollar weed in your yard just by changing your irrigation practices.
Doveweed is a sneaky summer annual weed that germinates later in the summer than other common Florida weeds. This causes doveweed to go undetected by homeowners until it becomes a problem. Doveweed is a very common problem in both residential and commercial lawns that are overwatered or have poor drainage.
A common perennial broadleaf weed found in Florida landscapes, gardens, and pastures is Beggarweed. The leaves, stems, and seeds of this weed are all coated in tiny hairs that act like velcro when they come into contact with hair, clothing, and fur. These sticky seeds can help propagate beggarweed far and wide and make a mess of your pets.
Florida pusley is a summer annual weed found in warm-season turfgrass. It seeks out and establishes itself in thin or bare spots in your yard. Florida pusley can be easily controlled by maintaining a healthy yard and practicing proper irrigation techniques to ensure your grass is thick and healthy.
Goosegrass is found in lawns all over the mid-west in the summer and grows in areas of high foot traffic and compact soil. Goosegrass germinates in the spring and grows throughout the summer and produces thousands of seeds before dying from the first frost in autumn. The seeds can remain in the soil for several years.
Joe Pye weeds have thick stems with lance-shaped, serrated dark green leaves that can be up to a foot long. Although it's often considered just a roadside week, Joe Pye weed has a sweet vanilla scent that is especially attractive to butterflies and other pollinators, and it has become an increasingly popular plant for native gardens. It does need plenty of space to accommodate its height and spread.
Occurring in low moist areas in open woods and turf, this broadleaf weed also prefers open sandy areas and can be found on stream banks and pond margins. Matchweed is a mat-forming broadleaf weed with hairy, lateral stems that are freely branched and rooting at the nodes. Professionally selected and applied broadleaf weed killers—based on your specific climate and geography—is the most effective method for control.
Love them or hate them, milkweed is famous for attracting and hosting Monarch butterflies. Their soft purple flowers also attract other pollinators as well. Milkweed enjoys full sun and moist to wet soil conditions and can grow up to 4 feet tall. It may seem harmless but this weed can spread at an alarming rate and can quickly overtake your gardens and flower beds. Milkweed is a perennial weed which means it will live for two years and deposit more seeds. This makes controlling milkweed very difficult but can be achieved through herbicide sprays, pulling by hand, and mulching.
Nutsedge is an aggressive common Florida weed that thrives in unhealthy lawns. Nutsedge is difficult to control because they are not broadleaf weeds that are targeted by most weed killers. Nutsedge can reproduce by releasing seeds that germinate and sprout into new plants or via underground stems, known as rhizomes. The most common way nutsedge reproduces is through underground tubers known as nutlets. To control nutsedge you need to buy products designed specifically for killing these difficult weeds. Proper lawn care management can also prevent nutsedge from gaining a foothold.
Purslane is an annual creeper with thick reddish stems and paddle-like leaves. Purslane is an edible plant that has a flavor profile of spinach and can be used in salads as an alternative to lettuce. Besides being a delicious salad ingredient, purslane is also an annoying weed that can ruin the look of your lawn. Seeds can remain dormant in your soil for years, even decades. You can control purslane by pulling the plants while they are still young. Just be sure to remove the entire plant because purslane can reroot from any part of the leaves or stems.
Sandspur is a grassy annual weed that also goes by burgrass or Sandburs. It is common in the southern United States. In the spring they appear like other grasses but by late summer, they start to grow burs or spurs that detach and carry the seed. These burs are very prickly and can even pierce the skin, especially when walking barefoot. Sandspur often grows in areas that are plagued with drought or are not getting proper nutrition.
Spurge is a fast-growing weed that can quickly get out of control if not treated. Spurge is an annual summer weed that grows low and spreads fast. The key to controlling it is stopping it early. Spotted spurge is often a sign of poor or compacted soil. The taproot of spurge is very long and if it isn’t all removed the weed will grow back from either root pieces or seeds.
One of the worst Florida lawn weeds to come across is stinging nettles. Nettles are perennials but are not like other weeds on this list. Stinging nettles are known for their painful stings when touched. Nettles are covered in tiny needles that house a chemical that irritates the skin and causes an agonizing burn on contact. The burning sting can last over an hour. Nettle stings are rarely dangerous or life-threatening but it is still a good idea to stay away from them. Nettles have a shallow root system and are very easy to pull by hand. Just make sure you are wearing thick gardening gloves when you do it.
Quackgrass is a creeping perennial grass that is considered a nuisance to Florida homeowners. It is commonly found in vacant fields or along roadsides that are not maintained. The plant begins to produce seeds in June which are dispersed by birds or wind to new areas where they will germinate and cause new headaches. Quackgrass can also reproduce by underground rhizomes that can travel from one lawn to the next, producing new plants along the way.
The leaves of yellow woodsorrel look similar to clover, except that the leaves are curved at the center of each leaf. The leaves open in the morning and fold during the night. This weed is notoriously hard to control because it grows year-round in Florida. The best way to get rid of woodsorrel is by digging them out as soon as possible, taking as much root as possible.
Clover is a common lawn weed found all over the United States. It is a cool-season perennial that is common in pastures and lawns. It reproduces with creeping stems that produce roots and shoots. As with most weed prevention, maintaining a healthy and dense lawn is the best method for preventing weed problems. This includes proper mowing height, proper irrigation, and fertilization.
Call the Professionals
This is just a small list of the number of Florida lawn weeds that can invade your lawn. Weeds can quickly get out of control and take over your yard. At Deans Services in Leesburg, FL, we have years of experience getting rid of weeds in Florida lawns. Our lawn care program is designed to feed your lawn, eliminate weeds and prevent them from coming back. We have the skills and expertise to turn your yard into the yard of your dreams. Give us a call today at 352-515-9826 or contact us online.