chickweed with flowers

Common chickweed (Stellaria media) Photo: Kevin Mathias, UMD

Updated: April 13, 2021

Life cycle

Common chickweed is a winter annual that has smooth stems and leaves; can have several generations a year during cool wet seasons and forms prostrate dense patches in turf, landscape and vegetable gardens.

Mouseear chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum) is a perennial with hairy stems and leaves; stems root at the nodes and can form dense mats or mounds of stems and leaves; flower petals are about the same size as the sepals.

mouseear chickweed
Mouseear chickweed

Field chickweed (Cerastium arvense) is perennial with shorter hairs on the stems and leaves; has more linear leaves and the flower petals are 2-3 times longer than the sepals.

Sticky chickweed (Cerastium glomeratum) is an annual with sticky hairs on the stems and leaves.

Growth habit

Height 3-6" in sun; up to 18" in shade.  Young leaves opposite, egg-shaped, pointed at tip.  Five white petals, deeply lobed giving appearance of 10 petals. Similar to mouseear chickweed, but not perennial or hairy.  Common in turf.

Reproduction

Seed dispersed in spring; germinates in fall; remain viable up to 10 years.

chickweed flowers and seeds
Chickweed flowers fading and seeds maturing

Conditions that favor growth

Thin, weak lawn, prefers poorly drained sites but common in a wide range of soils and conditions.

Management in lawns

Cultural lawn care practices

Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.

Mechanical management

Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.

Chemical Treatment in Lawns

Herbicides should be used as a last resort because of the potential risks to people, animals, and the environment. Read these lawn herbicide precautions first. 

preemergent applied in late summer/early fall can help prevent chickweed from germinating, however, you will not be able to sow grass seed. Or spot treat actively growing weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer in the early spring. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients: 2, 4-DMCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba* or Triclopyr.

*Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Read the product label for precautions.

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