Within days after the early January rains, thousands of wildflowers began germinating in my garden. Unfortunately, so did tens of thousands of weeds. Eighty percent of the weeds are Common Mallow (Malva neglecta), 18 percent Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Tumbleweed (Salsola tragus) makes up the remaining two percent.
Common Mallow is hardest to deal with. If I don’t get it out while it’s still tiny, it grows an extremely long and tough taproot, making it almost impossible to pull. I have to resort to a hoe. That technique is tricky, because if I don’t get the weed below the surface soil, it will just come back up. When it becomes overwhelming, then out comes the herbicide Roundup®, much as I hate to use it. Last year I had a landscape maintenance crew over to deal with the weed issue, but they didn’t know the difference between Penstemon and Dandelion, and they destroyed most of my wildflower seedlings along with the weeds.
Common Mallow usually grows to about three feet high, but I’ve seen plants over five feet with a trunk-like stems that exceed 10 inches in diameter. When the weed gets this large, it has to be bull dozed or drowned in herbicide to get rid of it. This weed seems impervious to drought, heat, and cold once established, so it really flourishes in landscapes where water is available. I really detest this weed. It's hard to believe that some folks find it attractive and don't mind it in their gardens.
At least Dandelion is easy to pull up, and the leaves used in salads. The only redeeming value I can think of for the Tumbleweed is that it inspired that wonderful song, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, by the Sons of the Pioneers.