Weed? Or Wonderful?

LAH_7583Everything is growing. Buds are bursting, early flowers are in bloom, and millions of tiny seeds are breaking through the soil into eager growth. It’s a wonderful time of year, and a busy one for gardeners. As we sow seeds and pull weeds, the question arises—which is which? Should we dig out that clump of green, or is it a desirable plant?

This is especially difficult if it’s a new yard, and this is our first chance to see what’s growing in it. Let me tell you a short story illustrating my gardening ineptitude.

We bought our first Colorado home in November (many years ago), and the landscaped beds were pretty bare. As things started sprouting, I was overwhelmed. I’d been gardening in Silicon Valley, and there’s just not a lot of overlap in species between California and Colorado.

Some interesting seedlings (at top) reminded me of chrysanthemums (or were they marigolds?), so I left them to grow. I watered and fertilized. They got bigger and bigger. I pinched them back, and they developed into robust plants over two feet high. The season wore on but no buds formed. No problem, I thought. Mums are fall bloomers, and it’s just too early. But as late summer arrived, buds did form. The flowers were nondescript spikes, ugly, obviously not in the least like a chrysanthemum—or any other ornamental plant. As my eyes began to water and my nose clogged up, I finally identified the plants as Common Ragweed. Oops!

With that fiasco in mind, I have yet another little quiz. Here are some photos of seedlings. Should you pull them out, or let them grow? More kudos if you can ID the plants. I’ve included attribution for some of the pictures; the rest are mine. I’ll give you the answers next week.

1 bugwood Howard F Schwartz
1. Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
2 bugwood Gerald Holmes
2. Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org
3 LAH_7568 (2)
3.
4 LAH_7565 (2)
4.
5 bugwood Steve Dewey
5. Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
6 bugwood Phil Westra
6. Phil Westra, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
7 bugwood Phil Westra
7. Phil Westra, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
8 bugwood Gerald Holmes-001
8. Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org
9 bugwood Phil Westra
9. Phil Westra, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
10 LAH_7563 (2)
10.
11 bugwood Phil Westra
11. Phil Westra, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
12 bugwood Howard F Schwartz 2
12. Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
13 aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu William C Welch-001
13. TAMU Extension
14 bugwood Joseph M TiTomaso
14. Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California – Davis, Bugwood.org
15 LAH_7577 (2)
15.

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