Basketgrass is a common weed in Central Florida. There are three species found in our area. Although one is native, the other two are not, and it is extremely difficult to tell one species from another without the help of a botanist.
Read more about the three species at the USF Plant Atlas website: https://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Results.aspx
Type in basketgrass for the common name or Oplismenus for the scientific name. You may also view photos of each species by clicking on the camera icon.
Some residents appreciate basketgrass and others want to remove it. Basketgrass commonly grows in shady areas. Although it can form a dense groundcover, it goes dormant and doesn’t stay green all year.
Additionally, trying to grow turfgrass in an area where basketgrass grows can also be challenging. Basketgrass is a sign that the area gets too little sunlight to grow turf. In these areas, use an appropriate mulch or try a groundcover suited to the site. See this UF/IFAS publication on growing grass in the shade to assess your site and make a determination about the best approach: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP072
For basketgrass control, hand-removal is a good option. If removing by hand, try to find your way down to the base of the plant. Then, pull the entire plant out including the roots. Often, you can hand-pull an entire mass of basketgrass at one time if you trace the stem to the ground.
Hand-removal before the grass flowers can be especially helpful. Once it flowers, it produces many seeds that will grow into new plants the following year.
Another option is to spot treat with an herbicide, making sure to spray only the weed and not desirable plants. If basketgrass is a significant weedy problem, you can apply a granular, pre-emergence herbicide that will inhibit weed seeds from sprouting.
On or around February 15th – think Valentine’s Day – is a good time to apply a preemergence herbicide in our area of Central Florida.
See this link for more information and contact your Extension office for assistance: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/EP/EP14100.pdf
The timing of preemergence herbicides is important. These products work in cool weather – don’t apply them when it warms up or throughout the year.
Skip using a sod cutter to remove basketgrass. The reason is that each piece of basketgrass that breaks off – such as with a sod cutter – can root and make new plants.
If you’d like to re-design look of your landscape, a mix of plants and mulch may be better because they can usually exist on rainfall or minimal supplemental irrigation.
Adding shade-tolerant plants and mulch to large areas can turn a semi-shady back yard – previously full of basketgrass – into a retreat. Adding a mulched area with a table/chairs or potted plants can also add visual appeal at low cost.
Below is a list of recommendations for shade-tolerant plants.
Shade to part-shade plants:
Groundcovers only: Jasmine minima, confederate jasmine (variegated plants are nice in the shade because they add color and interest), coontie, assorted ferns, irises, foxtail ferns, bromeliads, liriope, mondo grass (dwarf or standard), cast iron plant (‘Milky Way’ is a nice one), Aztec grass, Xanadu
Could add these to groundcovers for a tiered effect: Thai plants also known as dracaenas (mixing different kinds adds interest), larger ferns, palms, pinwheel jasmine, jatropha, caladiums, variegated shefflera, wild coffee
Other considerations include:
- Pull plants out and away from walls, trees and fences, as they do not need to be planted right next to large trees or structures. Pulling them out from structures also increases air circulation, keeps foliage off walls/fences and decreases the amount of plants needed to fill the area.
- Use a 2-3” layer of mulch after planting to reduce weeds and conserve water.
- Large areas can also be covered with mulch, such as pine straw, pine bark or oak leaves, instead of grass or groundcover. Having nicely mulched areas can look aesthetically pleasing and saves money on plant costs, if desired.
- Group plants and plant them in odd numbers to add visual interest.