A. I feel like running
through the county shouting, “THE CHICKWEED IS HERE! THE CHICKWEED IS HERE!”
This cool season annual is a major weed pest to gardeners. Many think it is
perennial because it can survive the heat of summer in shady, moist areas,
and the numerous seeds will germinate as soon as cooler fall temperatures
“Star Weed,” “Winter Weed,” “Satin Flowers” and “Tongue
Grass” are some of the common names used for this native of Eurasia. Common
Chick Weed (Stellaria media) is in the pink family, Caryophyllaceae. It is
an edible herb, and seeds can be purchased by gourmets relishing a chickweed
salad. But BEWARE, this is on the invasive plant list of most states.
The shiny, yellow-green leaves are elongated with a
rounded base that tapers to a point. They are opposite on the sprawling,
slender, weak stems. Large mats will form as stems form roots where nodes
make contact with the soil. The white flowers have five pedals, but are so
deeply divided that there appears to be ten. Blooms develop at the growing
tips of stems. The fragile roots also form a shallow, matted mass that is
difficult to remove by hand pulling. The numerous seeds are small,
reddish/brown, and disc-shaped.
Pulling chickweed is a frustrating operation. You pull,
it breaks. You pull, it breaks. Loosen the soil with a blade or weeder to
encourage most of the root system to pull out. Better yet, eliminate
emotional trauma by weeding at the seedling stage. It is much easier than
trying to remove mature plants.
Chickweed is very sensitive to broad spectrum and
broadleaf herbicides containing dicamba, dichlorprop or triclopyr. Products
that prevent the germination and growth of the seeds must be applied prior
to the seasonal eruption of plants because these chemicals need time to
permeate the soil. These preemerge products should contain simazine,
dithiopyr, dacthal, oryzalin, pendimethalin or isozaben. For lawns, corn
gluten is an organic preventative of seed germination and growth.
A useful hint for direct application of herbicide to
eradicating large colonies of chickweed growing under shrubs is
spot-treatment by putting on a waterproof glove and then a cotton glove.
Pour herbicide into a shallow container and moisten the lower surface of the
gloves with the liquid. Pat the chemicals directly onto the chickweed. This
will protect the foliage of desirable plants while getting the herbicide on
References to trade names is made with
the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by
the Texas Cooperative Extension Service is implied.