oxalis, oh how i love it..(SARCASM). help plz

cottagecindyNovember 26, 2012

Ok, the rain is slowly coming here in the bay area. My small backyard (right now 100% dirt, and covered with oxalis weeds (some 1 foot high) no flowers on them

so here's what I did. I pulled them all out. (yes, I know, disturbed the soil) and I even used a garden weasel to soften up some dirt along the side of the garage-where none were growing, but I found those bulblets.......

I still have a pile of dirt (had way too much dirt in yard) and I think I'm going to rent a truck and take the dirt to dump. Hopefully it won't rain too soon.

I want to plant a few trees, bushes, and grass..... next summer.
plzzzzz ANY advice to kill this beloved #@%& @#&*$@ weed. ??

The dirt yard is not even level yet. (under that huge pile to go) The yard is
approx 25' by 12'

oh and none were there this past summer. just now since the rain is coming. and only in wet soil.

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should I be posting this thread in the weed category ? I posted it here because I know it grows/behaves different all over the country.

How deep do these bulblets go? can i just sift or literally rid a certain inches of dirt altogether? and will grass block it out eventually? (this oxalis is not the kind in clumps in grass, it is the tall weed.)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:08AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

When asked how to eliminate oxalis once and for all from her California garden, the famous naturalist Lester Rountree is reported to have thought for a minute, before asking,"could you move? Even that will not work for long as new plants brought into the garden are sure to include oxalis. Al

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:50AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

What I did to get rid of it was to keep pulling it the minute I saw new growth emerging. This will starve the bublets and they will die. Kind of takes some sustained effort, but my slope has been oxalis-free for 5+ years now. Use your loathing to inspire you. Worked for me! :)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:39AM
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It's my recurring nightmare...every fall it comes back, yes moving is not an extreme solution.

I have had good luck with raised beds which have a weed barrier underneath and use clean soil.

If you keep after them with a hoe or by hand they will eventually give up (weed every month during the growing season), best done on bare soil (no plants). The Bulbs can be a foot below surface.

Smothering with layered newspaper etc. can work but will take 2 seasons. The mature bulbs form a significant root which will still form new bulbil's even without any sun.

Once you have planted a garden the problem becomes unmanageable as it it impossible to weed them all from around existing plants - the roots get enmeshed with plant root balls.

With a large yard and limited time, my strategy going forward is to eliminate them from a certain area each year and 'ignore' the rest.

They do not spread by seed, at least...


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 2:42PM
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So if I had a new yard, and wanted to get rid of the Oxalis pes caprae. I would remove all plants, trees as possible (blank slate) and loosen the soil (till to allow for better weeding later) to a good depth - removing all weeds. Then every 2 weeks or so I would hand weed every oxalis sprout using a digging tool like a knife to get as much of the root as possible each time - the other weeds can be scuffle hoed. By May or so the oxalis should be done for the year and it may be safe to start a new garden. If you dig the soil and still see roots/bulblet clusters, then it's not. In that case I would do an Annual only and Pot garden for the Spring/Summer so I could repeat the process the next fall/winter. I wish I had done this 20 years ago...


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 2:50PM
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calistoga you crack me up!
now what/how to weed in the wind and rain....hmmmm
I'm starting with a clean slate. Dirt. Dirt and more (too much) dirt.
I have to rent a pickup and haul a ton of dirt to dump/recycle area. yeh, so it may cost me a 100 (god i hope not much more.)
A new fence is going up around this tiny yard next spring/summer -when my landlord(who's a contractor) is going to build that. I get to design the entire backyard, trees, bushes, deck or patio.......I'll need help on that later!!!! :)))
so no planting of anything until that is in.
When I'm home I will be out there weeding rain or clouds (no shine lol)
I am working WAY too much in December-like double my hours-but the weeding has gotta be done on the few days I have free!

What is smarter? use a shovel and get a nice shovel scoop full of dirt and toss it into the bed of the truck? you'd think some of those baby bulblets would be wandering in there. -and so small have you noticed they look like bunny poop except brownish red bulblets (vs black bunny drops.) ok I'm allowed to be tired as I type/goofy.

maybe I can have a "sifting soil" party for all the locals on the GW ? :)
speaking of sifting, what should i use for that and where do i get it.?

you know, I could just deck in the yard with bushes around it. yeh I know, my best friends would pop up between the boards just to say hi! grrrrrr

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:49AM
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I've tried sifting, and there will always be some you miss. Like the poster above said, you have to keep pulling them out every time you see them. Even if you don't get the bulb, pulling out the green leaves that provide food for the plant will eventually starve the bulbs. I once read that if left unchecked, oxalis will become a monoculture - it will crowd out everything in its path.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oxalis

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:25PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I would perform 4-5 grow/kill cycles with glyphosate and then spot treat immediately any oxalis that comes up after that.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:01PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I would perform 4-5 grow/kill cycles with glyphosate and then spot treat immediately any oxalis that comes up after that.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:03PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I've yet to see any herbicide effectively kill weedy bulbs such as Oxalis pes caprae, or the even more pernicious Northoscordum. I also found that it can survive more than 5 years being covered without sun, and weeding it every 2 weeks for at least 3 or 4 years is probably the best method, and definitely put down weed fabric below any new at-grade deck or patio. I've even sifted soil in small San Francisco front yards, but you need to go at least 18" deep, and you won't get them all, they're devilishly difficult to spot after several hours of sifting. What's worked best for me is to use a combination of weed cloth and thick mulch, constant weeding, and choosing plants that grow tall/thick enough to out-compete the Oxalis. The good thing is they are seasonal, and at least you know where they are now, and you won't be battling them in summer.

One point to consider in removing topsoil, you won't actually be getting many of the bulbs within the top 12", but will be removing the portion of the soil with the most humus. Perhaps creating raised mounds or raised beds with the soil will make more sense. Also, dumps charge by weight, so a full truck full may well be over a $100 bucks.

If you'll not be planting anything this winter, you'll have the easiest time weeding it through June when it's finally died down for the season. Then you'll have a 4 to 5 month period with no Oxalis until the rains start up again. Sorry there's no easy solution, unless you'd consider removing about 2 feet of topsoil and replacing with new soil. This is my experience with dealing with Oxalis in dozens of landscape jobs over 20 years time. Or you could learn to like it, and only plant larger growing plants that can smother it out as they mature.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 5:01AM
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thanks bahia.
I think I will do just that, level out the dirt I already piled -still have excess dirt in yard which I may store for now in trashcans, but I will then go every day I can thru next June and weed those bad buggers. I will go around the plants to make sure I do get all the dirt with the small bulblets. I have a feeling like you mentioned, it's a fight I'm just going to have to learn to deal with. :(

All I really want is some tall bushes to go along fence (new fence in a year) like pittosporum (black stem) and sodded grass back there. The deck will be where an old patio has been for yearsssss. of course I'll put plenty of mulch around the bushes.
You think the oxalis will work its way up thru sod?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:37AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Oxalis will work its way up through sod, but regular weekly mowing will keep it in check, and it does eventually get weakened and die. I'd recommend maybe looking at one of the smaller growing Pittosporum species of cultivars. I have the straight species P tenuifolium in my backyard, and it gets huge and is also very messy with the constant debris of flowers and seed pods. Dwarfer forms such as 'Marjorie Channon' are more restrained and also more attractive in my view.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:18PM
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daisyincrete Z10? 905feet/275 metres

I am not in California, but often read your posts, as we have similar climates and it helps me to know, what will grow well here.
I know exactly how you feel about Oxalis pes caprea. The island of Crete is covered in this South African weed.
When I first moved into my house here, the entire garden was full of it.
I killed every last one with glysophate. Then I dug the entire plot over and killed any regrowth.
When I was sure it had all gone, I started planting.
Three years later, I can see I needn't have bothered.
It has recolonised from seed blown in from the surrounding area. It is growing up through herbaceous plants, under roses and shrubs, even out of the walls.
All I can do is keep pulling it.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 3:55AM
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slogal(CA z10a/Sunset 16)

Chickens! My four hens love to eat the young oxalis as it sprouts. I've read that they'll eat fennel too, but not my girls.

I'm in the minority though; as far as weeds go, I find oxalis rather benign. Pretty flowers, pretty leaves, dies back with no brown sticks & stems, no nasty stickers. I'll take oxalis over foxtails and filaree any day.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 5:15PM
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I don't find it the worst weed either. I push the trowel in deep and loosen the plant and get as much as possible. I'm a bit obsessive and take care of even the very small ones. It comes back, all that can be done is hope for a little control.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 9:21PM
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Put down weed block and some mulch or prepare to keep pulling. I have some areas that I just let it stay. When it comes up, I know that it's time to plant peas and other cool season annuals. Bees love it so I let some grow where it does not bother anyone. If it gets in the lawn, frequent mowing will take care of it.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 12:35AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I got rid of it. You must remove it and the soil as well. I remove the top layer of bad soil and replace with compost. Pulling it out is no good, because it will break off and then stems left will sprout new plants. Hopefully the top layer of soil is bad soil. It would be a shame to have to discard good soil. Ideally you only have it if you got a new garden or just moved in. It come from the neighbors garden under the fence and I have used round up, but nothing helps. It comes back since I can't pull it out. It is lodged under the concrete they put down. But, it is not a huge deal to keep that from spreading. Round up make it die back, but does not kill the root. I think it is immune to round up.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 7:49PM
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I just use a Hula Hoe. They cut easy. And when your new plantings spread out and you can mulch..they aren't much of a problem. They never go away though.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 5:26PM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

We're rural and there would be no way of eradicating this much oxalis, so I content myself with the fact that it is pretty and the bees love it.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 6:21PM
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I'm in the minority here. I like the plant. Always have from the time I was a child. It grows when it's the weather I like and dies off when it gets hot and icky. I like the heart shaped leaflets with little brown dots and the clear yellow flowers.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 12:42PM
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My chickens also love it. I'm actually considering cutting some leaves from outside my yard as a treat for my hens.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 4:34PM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

Did I mention that I've learned to love it?....

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 6:16PM
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Gypsy: That's how I like it too. Lotsa trees and a carpet of green and bright yellow underneath.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 9:24PM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

lol...me, too. I'm surrounded by clipped, trimmed, pruned, mowed, blown...and I prefer 'wild'.

But...I can sit out there and watch and listen to Redtails, Peregrines, flocks of Robins, Crows nesting, Woodpeckers...and bees abuzzin'.....all at the same time.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:11PM
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atreehugger(Sunset 21)

Spray it with Turflon - it kills it, root and all

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:02AM
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PLEASE do the smart thing and don't poison your garden and your family and your pets and yourself by using pesticides. Oxalis pes-caprae is the Bermuda buttercup/sourgrass oxalis that so many of us battle to keep out of our gardens.

The solution is to "wear out" the bulbs. You don't have a hope of getting the bulbs and bulblets out of your soil. You need to do what I did, which is to pull out every single bit of oxalis----try to get that long center root----and just keep at it, every year, until the bulbs starve.

This works. I now have an oxalis-free lawn and back yard. It takes some elbow grease and a lot of patience. It's a shame these weeds are so prolific and invasive, because bees adore the flowers.

Just don't use Round-up or any of the other pesticides people suggest. You will be healthier and infinitely kinder to the planet, if you pull weeds or smother them, rather than using poisons. Don't believe it, when anyone tells you pesticides aren't poisoning you and and your garden.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 3:18AM
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Moving is the best solution as I saw in an earlier post. Seriously. I've completely redone my garden and still have it. I pull it before flowering to prevent bulb divisions and it's helped. Digging it up never worked for me nor poison. It's all over the neighborhood and the squirrels plant the bulbs like they are food. I tell them don't do that. They don't listen. I give them peanuts and they hide both. Suppressing groundcovers have worked for me. Lamium archangel, fragaria, and cerastium. Geraniums like bevans or biakova almost work too but get a few oxalis poking through. Flamethrower?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:54PM
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I agree about not spraying herbicides.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 2:08PM
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