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QuestionI have a bad weed spreading in my flower bed here in Hot Springs Village and no one knows what it is or how to control it. It is a parasite evidently and has no roots and covers the flower (cockscomb) and chokes it to death. It is also at two of our local golf courses. It looks like straw and covers a patch of high weeds. Mine is yellow-white, but at the two golf courses it is orange. I have sprayed with Funginex but don't seem to do any good. I have read about Eight(garden dust), Foliar Spray and Seasons Spray Oil. Do you think any of these would help or harm?.

AnswerIt sounds like dodder. Dodder, commonly called love vine, is a parasitic weed. It starts growing from seed in the spring, and once it germinates it attaches itself to the host plant, and no longer has any roots. IT gets all of its nourishment from the host. It wraps around, looking yellowish in color, and sort of wiry. As it matures you will have tiny blossoms which will then set seed for attack next year, as the parasite is an annual. By late season, it looks very orange in color, and the host plant may be near death. Once established, your only recourse is to destroy the dodder and often the host plant—especially if the host is an annual flower, and get out as much as possible. If you can catch it early enough, you can prevent seed formation and set. You can also use a pre-emergent herbicide in the beds next March to help prevent a reoccurrence. Sprays of fungicides and insecticides are totally ineffective--it is not a disease or an insect, but a parasitic weed. Your only remedy now is to pull it and destroy it.

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