How to manage Florida Betony in your yard

Published 5:23 pm Friday, January 22, 2016

By Kyle Brown
Special to The Post-Searchlight

I’ve gotten several questions regarding control of Florida betony the last several weeks in yards around the county. Florida betony is a problem weed in both turf and ornamentals. Florida betony, or rattlesnake weed, is a “winter” perennial. It is dormant during the hot, humid summers of the South.

Like most plants in the mint family, betony has a square stem with opposite leaves. Flowers of betony are usually pink and have the classic mint like structure. Unlike its relatives, it has the unique characteristic of producing glossy, white tubers that look like the rattles (buttons) of a rattlesnake, hence the name (refer to the photo to the right). Below are some management recommendations from UGA Weed Scientist Dr. Mark Czarnota:

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“In turf grass, products containing atrazine, 2,4- D, or dicamba provide good selective control. In ornamentals, products containing the active ingredient glyphosate (i.e. Roundup®), can be used to control this plant in ornamental beds if applied as a spray directly to betony without contacting desirable plants.”

“Consider using glyphosate if establishing a new ornamental planting into an area containing betony. Apply a 5 percent spray solution of glyphosate one week prior to cultivating the area. This will help reduce much of the betony population. Repeat applications to eliminate survivors will be necessary. Maintaining a good 4 to 6 inch layer of pine bark or pine straw may eventually smother the betony.”

For more information on Florida betony, please feel free to come by or contact me at the UGA Decatur County Extension office. (229) 248-3033.