The Enemy: Prostrate purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Strategy: Prostrate purslane is an annual weed found throughout Idaho. This is a succulent or fleshy plant that troubles most garden and outer edges of lawns and fields. It has mostly red stems with fat, green leaves and small, yellow flowers and grows flat to the ground.

Attack: This plant sucks any remaining water that the soil can hold. It produces hundreds of seeds per plant and can spread by fragmentation. That is, if you pull the plant from the ground and break off plant parts and the broken segments fall back onto the ground, new plants will grow from the re-rooted, broken-off parts. Although edible, it competes for water and nutrients.

Defense: As you may have determined, rototilling is useless when trying to control this plant. If you do dig up individual plants (which does kill it) make sure that all the plant parts are put into a refuse container. Controlling purslane with herbicides is effective if you start early. Roundup by itself is ineffective but combining with a amine formulation of 2,4-D is beneficial. Mix the two at a 2% solution and if you need to control the precision of the application, try using a paint brush to wipe individual plant parts. This works on other unwanted plants as well. Once it has become large (mid- to late-August), herbicides become ineffective and mechanical control is the best tool. You may also try to water the affected area as the plant does not like high levels of water. Remember, with this plant do not allow it to get back onto the ground once you have pulled it. And don’t spread it around by making compost with it.

To learn more, call Bonneville County Weed Superintendent Jeffrey Pettingill at 208-529-1397 or email weeds@co.bonneville.id.us.