Kochia is a bushy annual, native to eastern Europe and western Asia, that is one of the fastest-spreading weeds in the United States. It makes efficient use of water and is able to thrive in low-rainfall regions. It spreads by producing a large number of seeds, which fall from the parent plant and quickly spread via wind and other elements. Livestock eat the plant, though it can contain high nitrate levels and be toxic to such animals. Few control methods exist beyond prevention and the general labour of uprooting the weeds.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Garden gloves
- Competitive vegetation
- Shading materials
- Waste container
Learn the identifying characteristics of the weed, as prevention is the best method for controlling kochia. The plants grow 1 to 6 feet tall and wide, with leaves that are 1/2 to 2 inches long and lance-shaped with long, hairy, alternate margins. The undersides of the leaves are hairy as well. Stems are generally round, with a red tinge and soft hairs. Flowers are short, spiky and surrounded by longhair clusters. Dead kochia plants break off at the base and become tumbleweeds.
Uproot kochia carefully from roadsides and along fences to avoid spreading its seeds. Place it carefully in a waste container and seal tightly once you are finished.
Plant competitive vegetation to reduce kochia plant numbers. The correct planting depends on site conditions, including soil type, climate and sun exposure. Call your local county extension office for information about which plants will crowd kochia most effectively in your location. Consulting a local nursery may also be useful.
Pull kochia directly from the ground and place it in a waste container immediately. Seal the container tightly once finished. You may also hoe kochia to remove it. Mow or slash the plant with garden shears before it flowers should reduce seed production, though this does not immediately kill the kochia.
Call nearby waste management control or ask the county extension office how to dispose of kochia to prevent spreading the weed.
Tips and warnings
- There are no known biological controls for kochia.
- Kochia is generally resistant to triazine and sulfonylurea herbicides, though using different herbicides can help prevent resistance in the plant.
- Do not move kochia or allow animals to graze on it as neither prevents seed production.
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