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 arrive.

“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 the weeds.

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.

 

"One year of weeds = seven years of seeds."
Under favorable growing conditions, a single
chickweed plant is capable of producing up to
twenty thousand seeds!

Young chickweed plant spreading through
dormant St. Augustine lawn.

Chickweed thrives under our mild
winter temperatures.

Even though we consider it a weed, chickweed
produces very lovely and very prolific flowers.


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