Gardening terms can often be confusing

| March 2006

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    HOLLYHOCKS: Hollyhocks are one of the many plants that belong to the biennial plant group.
    CAPPER'S Files

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Herbicides seem to be difficult to understand for the novice gardener. There are two phrases that are used to describe how an herbicide works: pre-emergence and post-emergence.

A pre-emergent herbicide is used to control weeds before they emerge from the soil. This is the type of herbicide that is normally used to control annual weeds such as crabgrass. Pre-emergent herbicides do not control weeds once they have established themselves.

Post-emergent herbicides work when the target weed is in a stage after the emergence of the weed in the garden.

The names that describe how an herbicide works may sound elementary, but understanding them is important. For instance, you can buy a product that is called 'crabgrass control,' but does it control the weed be-fore or after the plant has reared its ugly head in your lawn? If you apply it at the wrong time for the product's mode of action to work appropriately, you've wasted your time and money.

Other terms that may sound simple are also confusing to new gardeners. Annuals and perennials are confusing terms to many greenhorns, and it makes sense if you think about it.

The term annual plants could be construed as plants that return from the soil on an annual basis. Perennial plants could be thought of as plants that perennially need to be replanted from year to year. However, the phrases mean just the opposite. A comparison I give to gardeners who are having trouble with the terms is that annual plants are like annual tax returns. We all know that our taxes need to be filed each year.

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