Common chickweed is a low, spreading, winter annual weed that germinates when we receive lots of cool, wet weather. Its leaves are opposite each other, smooth and elliptical in shape. It is tolerant of a variety of conditions and thrives in moist, shady locations. This weed can produce seeds five weeks after germination and will continue to produce seeds for months. Each common chickweed plant can produce over 800 seeds and the seeds can lay dormant in soil for up to 10 years. Even once the weed is uprooted, it can continue to produce seeds and can even reestablish itself, if left on the ground.
Common chickweed thrives in lawns that are mowed closely, so remember to raise your mowing heights in the fall. Limit excessive soil moisture by only providing irrigation as needed. For information on watering lawns, see factsheet HGIC 1207, Watering Lawns . This weed will also thrive in landscape beds with little to no mulch. A three-inch layer of a course mulch will greatly reduce the incidence of the weed, as the seeds need light to germinate. For information on mulch, see factsheet HGIC 1604, Mulch. Mechanical removal of chickweed from landscape beds and gardens is easy, because the weed is shallow rooted. For information on chemical control of common chickweed, see factsheet HGIC 2301, Broadleaf Weeds.
Chickweed is an herb native to Europe and can be added to salads and other foods. It is said to have a mildly floral, grass-like flavor likened to corn silks. It can be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. The weed also serves as a host plant for the larva of the Venerable Dart and Chickweed Geometer moths. The flowers provide nectar for elfin butterflies, syrphid flies and other beneficial insects. On the other hand, chickweed can serve as a host plant for problematic insects such as spider mites and thrips and be a reservoir host for tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and cucumber mosaic virus (CMV).