Chickweed, also known as Common Chickweed, is extremely prevalent here in Tennessee. Native to Europe, it is an annual that germinates in the fall. What makes this so hard to get rid of is that it ALSO germinates year round, flowering and setting seeds in the early spring. It will die off when the hot and dry summer comes. But don’t be fooled, the seeds can stay dormant in the ground for years without you knowing. You can find it most often in gardens, flowerbeds, and lawns but it can also grow on the side of your house.
What is chickweed? What does it look like?
The leaves are smooth and oval with a point at the tip. It has tiny white flowers that are about a quarter of an inch in diameter. The stems trail along the ground for up to 16 inches, and the growing ends may be upright and grow up to 8 inches tall, more if in an open field. Interesting fact: Did you know the flowers close at night and open again in the morning? They also close when it’s about to rain (who needs the weather channel when you have chickweed)!
How do you treat and prevent chickweed?
Chickweed has shallow fibrous roots, so uprooting these up is not too challenging (unless you have a hefty infestation). On the bright side, if you happen to have birds or chickens as pets, chickweed makes great food for them, which is why it’s called chickweed! The flowers develop into small capsule-like fruits containing seeds (up to 15,000 per plant!). Because of this, it is very important to treat both with a post-emergent herbicide in late fall (remember, they bloom in fall and spring) and a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring before they have a chance to sprout, especially if you’re just beginning a treatment regimen. Lastly, adding mulch to areas they appeared the year before will keep the seeds from germinating. Grass clippings, wood chips manure, dead leaves will all serve as mulch but make sure it’s about one inch thick.
Overview of Chickweed:
Appearance: Leaves are smooth and oval with a point at the tip. It has tiny white flowers that are about a quarter of an inch in diameter. The stems trail along the ground for up to 16 inches, and the growing ends may be upright and grow up to 8 inches tall, more if in an open field.
Life Cycle: Winter annual, germinates primarily in the fall but also year-round.
Where it Grows: Sun or shade, but they prefer cool, damp, shady spots
Reproduces by: Seed
How to Prevent: Treat with pre-emergent herbicide
How to Remove: Treat with post-emergent herbicide or manually pull up.