Chickweed, Stellaria media, is one of those weeds that isn’t there until, seemingly overnight, it’s everywhere in garden beds and lawns. A winter weed, cooler weather is conducive to its rapid growth. Where I find it most annoying is its rapid spread in flower beds of pansies and other cool season annuals. Fortunately, because it’s a winter weed, it’s usually gone by June with the onset of summer’s heat.
Chickweed has tiny, white, starburst shaped flowers that open on sunny days. Each plant produces thousands of seeds that can sprout immediately in warm weather and can remain viable in soil up to ten years.
If seeds are too deep in the soil they won’t germinate, but, when they’re close to the soil surface, they will germinate readily and grow very quickly in cool, wet conditions. Applying a pre-emerge weed killer to lawn areas in September will help keep this out of your grass. But if you still spot it’s light green leaves in your winter tan lawn, mowing before it goes to seed will help control it.
I hand weed it out of my flower beds, taking care to throw everything I pull into a garbage bag since any stray piece left in the bed will root, causing more work…
Chickweed’s common name is appropriate because it’s a favorite food of chicks that eat the leaves and seeds. This could be a good reason to get some chickens! It’s also edible if any of you are so inclined, or you can leave it for the birds and rabbits, who also like it. Now that I think about it, next time I’m weeding it out of my flower beds, maybe I should save some to try in a salad!
For even more details on chickweed, take a look HERE at a Penn State weed management post.