Common chickweed (Stellaria media) is an annual broadleaf weed that grows in gardens, along roadsides, and in damp tree shade. It is a low-growing plant that forms a mat during its growth, has egg-shaped leaves, and grows to spread up to 12″ wide, and can cover and smother other seedlings, making it a garden menace. Star-shaped white blooms sprout from the plant and have 5 petals with deep clefts that make it almost appear there are 10 petals instead. Egg-shaped seed capsules grow close to the blooms. Chickweed thrives in the springtime and favors cool, wet conditions, and will not usually survive into hot summer months.

Perhaps more dangerous than chickweed’s spreading and crowding is the fact that chickweed can host a number of fungal and viral diseases that can be spread to desirable plants. The chickweed’s seeds can host diseases in the soil for as long as 5 months.

Controlling Chickweed

Because viable seeds can survive in the soil for many years (25 to 40 years), one of the most effective means of controlling chickweed is to complete bury the seeds deeply in the soil. In the fall, a pre-emergent weed killer that is labeled to treat chickweed can be applied to prevent seeds from germinating.

Hand-pulling chickweed plants is generally not very effective since it will not take care of the seeds. However, hand-pulling will set back the chickweed’s spread and slow its progress.

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