Seedling or Weedling?

Remember the definition from my weed class? A weed is a plant growing where you don’t want it to grow. But now I realize that I don’t always know how to tell a seedling from a “weedling.”

One of my “regular” chores as a child was to weed around my mother’s fruit trees. We lived on about a third of an acre in suburban New Jersey where Mom grew apples, pears, peaches, and cherries. I never wondered before why the kids got to weed the trees and only the trees. Now I know. Even a child can distinguish between a weed and a tree.

Every spring I plant a mass of petunias in a little bed near the front steps of my house. How boring. One year I planted Ajuga, thinking that I’d would never have to plant that plot again. Instead, the Ajuga turned spotty and quickly became a “weed” that I tore out. This year, because I was racing to get the vegetable beds planted, I bought a handful of flower seed packets. One day, in the middle of an early, cold rainstorm, I sprinkled that plot with the seeds from those packets.

This is what I have today:


How do I tell what’s what? I can identify the grass, but not much else.

Here’s the corner of the plot:


Sort of looks like cone flowers. Right? Or maybe that’s one of the weedy brassicas my friend Lenora identified for me a couple of weeks ago. At this stage, they all look pretty much the same to me.


I can figure out the different sedums I planted and the one hardy chrysanthemum that came back from last fall. But the rest of it? What a hot mess!

It may end up being pretty when they flower, always assuming that I don’t have a bed of weedlings on my hands. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m taking some time to Google zinnias, cone flowers, poppies, and sunflowers, which are the seed packets I remember.

Oh and yes, next time I’ll write down what I plant. My bad.


13 thoughts on “Seedling or Weedling?

  1. I plamt lots of wildflower seeds and often have the same problem ypu describe. I just focus on that which I know to be a weed – The old standard weeds I see every year. Otherwise I let it grow and eventually figure out what it is. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Thanks, Jim! I’m doing exactly that this year – waiting to see what happens next. Although my wonderful master gardener friends are helping me identify what I planted!

  2. Same two words I always tell you….”Crap Shoot!” I sprinkle the wildflower seeds on the hillside every year and just let it go. Flax always comes back and some other self-seed. I just let it go and enjoy what comes!

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