Red Flowered Mallow or Creeping Mallow

Creeping mallow (Modiola caroliniana)

Creeping Mallow, known as Red Flowered Mallow, is a mat-forming biennial or perennial weed. It is a problem in turf, lawns and gardens.

After you read this, you will be able to:

  • Recognise Creeping Mallow or Red Flowered Mallow.
  • Know the habitat of Red Flowered Mallow.
  • Know the best cultural and chemical options to control Creeping Mallow.

Creeping Mallow is a soil indicator of low soil Ca and waterlogged, compacted soil with poor drainage. It also indicates high K, Fe, Al, and very high Mg. It also shows very wet, compact soil with poor drainage. More on turf weeds is in our weed ID chart.

Red Flowered Mallow has prostrate creeping stems that root at the nodes and flowers from November to February.

It causes nerve disorders in sheep, cattle and goats (staggers). In goats, paralysis occurs.


How to identify Creeping Mallow.

Category: Broadleaf (Dicot)

Flowers: The single flowers have 5 petals and are on stalks in the leaf axils. They are mainly orange-red or red.
Leaf length: The leaves are egg shaped and are 3-4 cm long
Leaf width: The leaves are 2-3 cm wide.
Stems: The stems are prostrate, hairy and root at the nodes.

Reproduction: This reproduces from seed, and produces up to 5,000 seeds per plant. Seeds are normally dispersed by water or soil.

Comments: The leaves are kidney-shaped, round or shaped like a triangle with 3 to 7 toothed lobes.
Habitat: This weed is common in gardens, lawns, and playing fields. It also occurs in aquatic areas and disturbed vegetation.



How to control Creeping Mallow.

Both cultural and chemical options can control creeping mallow or ground ivy.

Cultural control of Creeping Mallow.

A good strategy is to maintain a thick, healthy turf cover. Ensure you feed the turf and use the right turf fertilizer. This creates a thick turf cover that discourages Creeping Mallow. Mow at the right height as this will also help favour turf over this weed.


Chemical Control of Creeping Mallow

Pre-emergent herbicides.

Pre-emergents like Specticle or granular pre-emergents like Onset 10GR have no knockdown activity. Because these only control weeds from seed, they do not control older mallow plants. They do however, give very good control of Mallow that grows from seed. You get the best results when you apply them to bare soil.

Be aware that if the root system of Mallow remains in the soil, it will re grow even if you apply a pre-emergent.


Total knockdown herbicides.

Total knockdowns like glufosinate ammonium, give some control. However, this is just a brown off of the top of the weed and they leave a living root system.

By leaving the root system, Mallow can grow back. This can be in the same year depending on when you apply any herbicide.

Systemic total herbicides like glyphosate (Rapid Fire or similar) move to the roots. To get good control you need to use this at a high rate, and with a tank adjuvant.

You get the best results with glyphosate, when you apply it to young Mallow after it has just emerged.


Selective herbicides

In comparison to other major weed problems there are only a few few selective herbicides registered to control Creeping Mallow.



In conclusion

The key to the control of Creeping Mallow is to maintain a healthy turf surface.