Slender Speedwell (Veronica filiformis)
Slender Speedwell is a garden escapee, introduced from the Caucasus in the 1830's. In Ireland it was sewn into the clothes of travelers for good luck, to 'speed' them on their journey. If you want to introduce some to your sports ground, go to the herb section of the local garden centre!
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Prostrate and low growing with creeping slender stems
SITUATION: This weed grows on all soil types, in particular moist soils.
GROWTH: Grows via small creeping stems and will adapt to close mowing regimes with ease.
FLOWERS: Flowers are silvery/blue/mauve/violet in colour and appear on thin flower stems from April to June. More often than not, this weed can flower at the same time as the first crop of Dandelions in the spring.
LEAVES: Leaves are small, kidney-shaped and toothed.
REPRODUCTION: By vegetative reproduction - underground and over-ground creeping stems will root at nodes and produce new plants. Pieces of root/shoot broken off from the parent plant can also re-root from the nodes. Small fragments of stem can root if they have broken off during the actions of mowing. Rarely forms seed as plants are self-fertile.
CULTURAL CONTROL MEASURES: Hand weeding - Individual weeds can be carefully lifted with a fork or pulled out by hand. Ensure all portions of root and stem are lifted to prevent re-growth. Remove existing plants; rake vigorously to raise runners, mow closely and remove all stems to prevent re-rooting. Mow regularly to prevent flower and seed heads forming. Remove all clippings after mowing to prevent spread of seed - just in case. A dressing of Lawn Sand applied in the spring will help to keep the weed under control as the Iron in the Lawn Sand will scorch the leaves. Feed and top-dress to encourage vigorous growth of the turf grasses.
CHEMICAL CONTROL MEASURES: Slender Speedwell is a difficult weed to control after just one herbicide treatment, despite what the chemical label states! The time to apply a selective herbicide is just before the flowering stage, which, if in early spring, is not warm enough for the turf that it resides in to be growing normally.
Control is less effective after flowering. Apply little and often, spraying again six weeks after the initial treatment in order to gain better control.
These selective herbicides have Slender Speedwell control listed on their labels:
Mascot Bastion T - Fluroxypyr and Mecoprop - P (Rigby Taylor)
Spearhead - Clopyralid, Diflufenican and MCPA (Bayer)
Lawn Clear - Fluroxypyr and Mecoprop - P (Vitax Amateur Products)
Always read the label - use pesticides safely
With thanks to Mike Seaton, Weed Free www.weedfree.co.uk