Henbit, a member of the mint family, is an upright winter annual that blooms in the spring. The leaves are rounded on the end with rounded toothed edges that grow opposite one another on square stems Upper leaves lack petioles. Henbit can grow from 4- to 12- inches tall on weak stems. Although an upright plant, weak stems sprouting from the bottom may lay almost horizontal. Henbit can be confused with purple deadnettle. The leaves of purple deadnettle, however, are more pointed at the end and are slightly scalloped. The lower leaves of purple deadnettle are on long petioles, the upper leaves are on short petioles. The flowers of henbit are purple, tubular shaped and form in the whorls of the upper leaves. Henbit spreads only by seed and is generally not a problem in dense, vigorous turfgrass sites. Henbit is found throughout the United States.
Henbit can be highly competitive in newly seeded areas and thin or dormant turf. Henbit thrives in cool, moist areas. Growing conditions can be made less favorable by lightening the soil or otherwise improving drainage, especially in shady areas. Heavy, constant shade should be lightened as well where possible. Shady areas should be planted with turfgrass species which do well in the shade and which will provide maximum competition to weed species which invade shady areas.
Use a selective post-emergence herbicide taking care to follow spray intervals if treating newly seeded areas. Optimum control will be obtained when henbit is actively growing and in the seedling to flower stage of growth.