How to Kill Spotted Spurge

This summer annual can leave thousands of seeds behind to sprout next spring.

Spotted spurge thrives in the heat of summer. This speckled weed is an unsightly nuisance in the lawn, taking up residence in weak areas of the turf, and also invades landscaping beds, sidewalk cracks, and vegetable gardens.

Spotted Spurge Defined

In addition to its signature red spots, spotted spurge can be distinguished by the milky sap that is emitted when any plant part is split open. Once established, each bright green plant forms a thick mat that can be up to 3 feet in diameter. Its hairy, reddish stems branch out from a central point and carry many tiny, oval leaves. After germinating in mid-spring, the plant's inconspicuous, green flowers bloom from June until September.

3 Methods for Killing and Preventing Spotted Spurge

Spotted spurge spreads quickly throughout weak areas in your lawn by producing several thousand seeds per plant. Even though it's a summer annual, late-season seeds can sprout next spring after lying dormant during cold temperatures. This warm-weather pest begins seed production a mere 5 weeks after germination, so early detection and treatment are key.

1. Spot treat at the first sign of growth.

An easy way to prevent an infestation is to remove the weed from your landscape before it begins to produce seed. When these weeds do pop up, pull them out or spot treat them with Ortho® WeedClear™ Lawn Weed Killer Ready-to-Use before they have time to produce seed.

Hand-pulling is a good option if you only have one or two weeds because of spurge's central taproot. Be careful when pulling so you don't scatter any seeds or leave a portion of the root in the ground as it could grow back.

2. Controlling an infestation of spotted spurge.

If you've got a large spotted spurge problem in the lawn, apply Ortho® WeedClear™ Lawn Weed Killer Ready-to-Spray or Ortho® WeedClear™ Lawn Weed Killer Concentrate according to label directions.

3. Create a thick lawn to crowd out future weeds.

Spotted spurge will take advantage of any bare spots or weak areas in your lawn. To keep it out, feed your lawn regularly and mow it at the proper height to help keep the turf full and dense to ensure that this non-competitive plant won't have room to grow.