Questions on: Chickweed
Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service
Q: I have a weed with a small white flower that is becoming a real pest on the north side of our house. Can you tell me what it is and how to get rid of it? The nearest trees are about 100 feet away. Thanks! (Aneta, N.D.)
A: The weed you have is a common one in N.D. on north side locations, common chickweed - Stellaria media. This is an annual plant that reproduces via seed distribution. It pulls easily, as I'm sure you have discovered. You can control it now with a broadleaf herbicide like TRIMEC. Early next spring apply a pre-emergence herbicide.
A: Trimec will take care of the plant but not the seeds. There are several pre-emergence herbicides on the market that you can use next spring about the time the forsythia are in bloom. With properly timed application, you will eliminate most of this pest.
Q: How can I get rid of chickweed? (Bowdle, S.D.)
A: An annual, chickweed is a prolific seed producer, and the best way to control it is via a continuation of attacks:
Continuous weeding will eventually reduce the soil seedbank population, but you'd probably wear out in the meantime. There are a number of herbicides that will kill the weed on contact--2,4-D and Weedone are two examples. Use a pre-emergent herbicide early next spring--such as Pendimethalin--to keep the seeds from germinating. You can try one last tactic, which is almost guaranteed to spell its demise--cultivating it as a crop!
Q: I would like some information on how to get rid of or control chickweed in a vegetable garden. (Crosby, N.D.)
A: Treflan (trifluralin) will control chickweed in most garden crops. Obtain some from a local garden center and follow label directions for your particular veggies. It is a preemergence, so it will not work on the chickweed if it has germinated.
For those early volunteers I suggest simply pulling the chickweed. It is easy to pull, but make sure you get it before it sets seed.
Another option is to dust the chickweed with ammonium sulfate while the morning dew is still on it -- guaranteed to burn it down.
Finally, why not try cultivating it? It can be used in place of lettuce in sandwiches or as a component of salad. Some people have also cooked it like spinach. Fate sometimes is fickle -- if we try to kill it, it persists; cultivate it lovingly and it dies!
Q. Enclosed find a sample of a weed that has literally taken over my three lots of lawn. I would like to know what the name of it is and how I can get rid of it. Can it be sprayed successfully without making the ground dormant? Should it be treated this fall or is it best applied in the spring when it's lush and green. Right now most of it has gone to seed. Thank you. (Butte, N.D.)
A. Your sample was on the way to becoming compost, but from a few of the whole leaves that had not rotted, I could identify it as chickweed, a very prolific seed producer.
There are herbicides you can use for control next spring that are available on the market. Dacthal, or commonly designated as DCPA, is quite an effective chickweed preventer. Another one, perhaps more commonly available on the market is pendimethalin, sold under a couple of trade names with one being Pre-M.
Follow label directions for proper application rates and your desirable permanent grasses should not be affected.
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