Connecting Greater Phoenix gardeners with information that helps put xeriscape principles into action.

Weeds in Phoenix Gardens: Common Mallow

Here’s one weed that you’ve probably seen in your garden:  Common Mallow (Malva neglecta).

Common Mallow (Malva neglecta)Also known as Buttonweed or Cheeseweed, Common Mallow comes from the same family as one of our native desert plants, Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua).  But if you’ve seen Common Mallow’s ability to crowd out other plants in your garden, you know why they call it a weed.

It was brought to the United States from Europe…which is why we have laws banning the transport of plant materials between countries, states and regions.  What grows really well in one area can quickly become invasive in another area.

The best thing you can do for Common Mallow (or most any weed) is simply to pull it by hand.  It gets to the root of the problem (a pun!)…and keeps unnecessary chemicals out of your garden.


Phoenix Gardening: What’s in a Weed?

Weeds are a matter of perception.  That’s completely contrary to what I learned as a kid but, as I get older, I find that this is more and more true.

Take Lantana, for example.  A hearty grower in Phoenix, Lantana is considered a noxious weed in Hawaii.  The same goes for Bermudagrass:  it grows well here (too well, I’d argue, which puts it into the weed category for me) but is a noxious weed in California.   But there are plenty of Phoenicians who cannot live without their Bermudagrass.  So…is it a weed?  You decide.

I have a plant that comes up with my wildflowers in the spring.  I’ve also seen it in the desert around Lake Pleasant.  My neighbor tells me it’s a weed.  But the foliage is interesting, it blooms these little yellow balls, it always smells like the desert after a good rain (similar to Creosote) and it fills in the empty spots in my wildflower bed.   So I water it.

But I’m still trying to identify it.  I found this book, Weeds of the West, and it lists some 350 weeds with some very good descriptions and pictures.  I might argue with some of their weed choices (Sunflowers…really?).  But then again…weeds are all a matter of perception!