Is this clover or oxalis and how do I get rid of it?
September 5, 2014 5:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm new to gardening and throughout the spring have been vigilant about keeping my flower beds clear of weeds. Then a few weeks ago, this started coming up and has completely taken over.

I assume weed killer is not an option since I have surrounding plants. Is there an easy way to get rid of all this? They are actually quite short right now (probably less than an inch high) but they cover a large area and trying to pull up each little tiny plant seems like it's going to take forever.

I thought about getting a big shovel, flipping the soil and then covering with mulch. Is that a bad idea? Also, does anyone know if this oxalis or clover?
posted by gfrobe to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
 
Definitely oxalis. Consider a scuffle hoe (aka stirrup or oscillating hoe)--they're perfect for this kind of weeding. If you have a normal hoe it will also work just fine.
posted by pullayup at 5:54 AM on September 5, 2014


Yes, oxalis or woodsorrel. It has the little yellow flowers, and is more limey green than true clover. If you taste one of the leaves, it will be tart and lemony. You have to dig it up, yes, see here about the bulbs. Mulch is good.

A lot of what you see in landscaping is either lots of mulch, or black plastic or black landscaping cloth covered by decorative mulch (redwood chips, rocks). So even if you lay straight wood chips down, you will still get weeds, but it's better than nothing and prevents seeds that need light from germinating. Often those are the ones dropped from plants we consider weeds.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:00 AM on September 5, 2014


Thanks. The scuffle hoe looks like a good idea but googling a bit says that oxalis must be removed carefully or it will spread. Have also read that a mix of white vinegar and dish detergent kills them so may give that a shot. In the meantime, if anyone has any other suggestions, please feel free! Thanks.
posted by gfrobe at 6:10 AM on September 5, 2014


The white vineagar and dish soap may be effective in something like a crack on your driveway or sidewalk, but isn't a good idea in your flowerbed. It's going to be harmful to everything including other plants and beneficial bugs you want.
posted by sevenless at 6:51 AM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oxalis is noxious and almost impossible to get rid of. Don't get lazy--if you let it spread, it'll get everywhere. Pull the plants as often as possible, and if you can, dig up the small bulbs that send shoots out sideways to reproduce. Another option is to put down weed-block cloth and cover with mulch, but even that isn't sure-fire.
posted by suelac at 8:36 AM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


You can get a round up gel in in an applicator. It sticks to the leaves you touch it against, so it's good for weeding around plants you want to keep.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 8:39 AM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oxalis grows via rhizomes. You have to get those out of the soil or it will just keep coming back.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:46 AM on September 5, 2014


sevenless: The white vineagar and dish soap may be effective in something like a crack on your driveway or sidewalk, but isn't a good idea in your flowerbed. It's going to be harmful to everything including other plants and beneficial bugs you want.
Meh, it's not like we're discussing dropping napalm. The soap breaks down naturally; the vinegar will dilute with the next rain to a harmless level. This solution is about as green-friendly as chemical solutions get.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:02 AM on September 5, 2014


Rabbits would take care of that, no problem. . . .

You could try an oxalis-specific weed killer, like Weed-B-Gon Chickweed, Clover and Oxalis Killer.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:16 AM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, I agree that the vinegar/dish soap is probably better for the environment than some manufactured non-specific herbicide, but it's going to do who knows what to existing plants that the OP doesn't want harmed, and it's going to kill most every bug it touches. The oxalis mostly likely won't even blink at it.

On preview don't use Weed-B-Gon around your flowers. It will kill those too. That herbicide is for lawns.
posted by sevenless at 11:21 AM on September 5, 2014


Rabbits would take care of that, no problem.

I actually have rabbits on my front lawn and in the flower beds all the time. They don't seem to be helping!
posted by gfrobe at 11:39 AM on September 5, 2014


The good news is that, at least where I am in Northern California, oxalis is really seasonal. It'll go away (for a while) in a few months.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:25 PM on September 5, 2014


Also: One way you can tell oxalis from clover is that oxalis has heart-shaped leaves. This is a forager's trick; oxalis is edible, in small quantities, while clover is not.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:27 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've got two beds that are mulched, and one that is not. Mulch.
posted by mr vino at 6:38 PM on September 5, 2014


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