Common Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)

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Plant Details

Category: Annual
Light: Sun to Part Shade
Bloom Season: Summer
Height: 1-6' / 
0.3-1.8m
Space: 1-2' / 
0.3-0.6m
Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Lowest Temp: -40° to -30°F / 
-40° to -34°C
Colors: Green

Basic Care

Tolerates poor soil, heat, and drought. Will grow in nearly any type of soil including clay and sand. Remove from ornamental beds, borders, or vegetable gardens before plants go to seed to avoid aggressive spread.

Water

Moist but not wet.

Soil

Ordinary soil with good drainage.

Feed

None required.

attracts pollinators

Attracts Pollinators

attracts birds

Attracts Birds

attracts butterflies

Attracts Butterflies

Features

Lambsquarters is a common annual plant found throughout North America. The foliage of lambsquarters is an attractive silvery-green. Small, but dense clusters of green flowers appear in spring followed by seeds. The plants die by winter.

Whether lambsquarters is a friend or foe, depends on your point of view. It readily seeds itself to become a weed in cultivated gardens, mulch piles, vacant lots, and along roadways. But, it’s also a considered an edible plant and provides a food source if prepared properly (the plant is high in oxalic acid). Lambsquarters is also a good trap plant to help protect high-value plants from leaf miners and aphids. A wide range of wildlife also depend on this plant for its flower pollen, foliage, or seeds.

Common lambsquarters is believed to have originated in Eurasia but it is naturalized throughout most of North America. Also referred to as “lambsquarter”.

Uses

Foliage is edible if prepared properly. Flowers are a source of pollen for bees and other insects and many songbirds feed on the seeds. The foliage provides food for many desirable species of butterfly and moth caterpillars.

Common Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) Care Guide

Prepare the garden by breaking up the existing soil (use a hoe, spade, or power tiller). Add organic matter such as manure, peat moss or garden compost until the soil is loose and easy to work. Organic ingredients improve drainage, add nutrients and encourage earthworms and other organisms that help keep soil healthy. Give plants an extra boost by adding a granulated starter fertilizer or a balanced all-purpose feed (for example fertilizers labeled 12-12-12).

Check the plant label for suggested spacing. Crowding plants can result in fewer blooms and weak growth as the plants compete for light. Exceptions to this might be regions with a short growing season, shade plantings which tend to grow slower and fill in less quickly, or a need to fill an area with color quickly such as for a special event or if planning to entertain guests outdoors.

Remove the plant from the container. If plants are in a pack, gently squeeze the outside of the individual plant cell while tipping container to the side. If plant doesn’t loosen, continue pressing on the outside of the container while gently grasping the base of the plant and tugging carefully so as not to crush or break the stem until the plant is released. If the plant is in a pot, brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot.

Dig the hole up to two times larger than the root ball and deep enough that the plant will be at the same level in the ground as the soil level in the container. Grasping the plant at the top of the root ball, use your finger to lightly rake the roots apart. This is especially important if the roots are dense and have filled up the container. Set the plant in the hole.

Push the soil gently around the roots filling in empty space around the root ball. Firm the soil down around the plant by hand, tamping with the flat side of a small trowel, or even by pressing down on the soil by foot. The soil covering the planting hole should be even with the surrounding soil, or up to one inch higher than the top of the root ball. New plantings should be watered daily for a couple of weeks to get them well established.

Vining annuals require vertical space to grow, so provide a trellis, fence, wall or other structure that allows the plant to grow freely and spread.

New plantings should be watered daily for a couple of weeks. After that, depending on the weather and soil type, watering can be adjusted to every two or three days. Clay soils hold moisture longer than sandy soils, so expect to water more frequently in sandy settings.

Different plants have different water needs. Some plants prefer staying on the dry side, others like to be consistently moist. Refer to the plant label to check a plant’s specific requirements.

Ideally water should only be applied to the root zone – an area roughly 6-12” (15-30cm) from the base of the plant, not the entire plant. A soaker hose is a great investment for keeping plants healthy and reducing water lost through evaporation. Hand watering using a watering wand with a sprinkler head attached is also a good way to control watering. If the garden area is large, and a sprinkler is necessary, try to water in the morning so that plant foliage has time to dry through the day. Moist foliage encourages disease and mold that can weaken or damage plants.

To check for soil moisture use your finger or a small trowel to dig in and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Prune plants freely to maintain the desired size and shape. Pinching plants back stimulates dense, bushy new growth and encourages more flowers.

Remove old flowers to keep plant looking healthy and prevent seed production that drains the plant’s energy at the expense of forming new flowers.

Some plants are grown only for their attractive foliage (such as coleus, dusty miller and flowering kale). Their flowers are not very showy and any buds should be pinched off to keep the foliage looking its best.

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product with a nutritional balance designed to encourage blooming (such as 5-10-5).

Too much fertilizer can actually damage plants so it’s important to follow the package directions to determine how much, and how often, to feed plants.

Common Lambsquarters Companion/Combination Plants

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