by Ethan Flournoy, Doug Martin, and Dustin Miller
Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a member of the pink or carnation family (Caryophyllaceae). Chickweed is typically 3 to 8 inches tall and can form a mat up to 16 inches in diameter. Leaves are pointed and oval shaped, with entire leaf margins that will grow in pairs from a half of an inch to one inch long. Small white star-like flowers occur in clusters with five deeply lobed petals that can grow up to an eighth of an inch in diameter. These flowers will develop into capsule-like fruits that contain seeds.
Chickweed prefers moist soils, but it can be found in open sunny areas as well as shaded areas. Chickweed can be found worldwide in any type of climate; however, in Mississippi, it is considered to be a winter annual. It is commonly found near buildings, trees or in landscape beds. Chickweed propogates by seed. It can produce as many as 15,000 seeds per plant.
There are three types of control for chickweed: cultural, biological, and chemical.
Cultural control can include hand weeding; however, this is most effective while the weed is in its juvenile state. If hand pulled when mature, it can cause significant seed dispersal. In a landscape environment, a two inch layer of mulch can suppress new weeds. In maintained turf, the best prevention is to monitor irrigation and fertilizer applications in order to maximize turf health and competitiveness.
For biological control, grazing has been reported as an effective tool.
Chemical control requires both pre- and post-emergence herbicides. Balan, dimension, and barricade are preemergence herbicides that have good activity on chickweed. Dicamba, Trimec, Surge, and Speedzone are selective post-emergent herbicides often used to control chickweed.
View current weed control guidelines for Mississippi at MSUcares.com.