How Do I Manage Chickweed in the Garden?

“Chickweed is on the attack! Help!” Question from Judy of Louisville, Mississippi

Answer: Winterweeds like chickweed (Stellaria spp.) are such a pain because they sprout and take over our gardens while we are enjoying a respite from outdoor gardening. Sneaky! You will be glad to learn that they are easy to tackle. Here are five good ways to wage war on chickweed.

  1. Mulch beds in fall with a 2-3-inch layer of composted bark mulch, mushroom soil, or straight compost, like Black Gold Garden Compost Blend. Chickweed sprouts along the soil surface on warm winter days but is smothered by compost or mulch, so you can just apply it and smile.
  2. Apply an organic pre-emergent, like corn gluten, in fall to keep weed seeds from sprouting. Pre-emergents stop weed seeds from germinating.
  3. Hoe and scratch up those seedlings in winter as soon as they begin to sprout! If the soil is warm enough to hoe, get out there and tackle chickweed at the seedling stage. It’s easier to manage when small.
  4. Till them under before they set seed. If plants have had time to become large, till them under, dig them up, or weed them out by hand before they set seed.
  5. Mulch again in spring to keep that weed seed layer covered and in check.

Happy chickweed destroying!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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