Why Do Weeds Grow So Fast?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 09:01 pm

Warum wächst Unkraut nur so schnell? - Newsportal - Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Weeds thrive faster than desirable plants. But garden owners are not powerless.

To show what makes weeds so strong and successful, our expert Prof. Dr. Thomas Stützel from the Department of Plant Evolution and Biodiversity sends two competitors into the vegetable patch: In our case, carrot is the good guy and chickweed is the bad guy.

Why Do Weeds Grow So Fast?

Unequal germination duration
The seed bag gives a germination period of 10 to 20 days for carrots. Chickweed mercilessly takes advantage of this. It takes only two to three days to germinate, and after the 20 days until the last carrot germinates, it has already flowered and set its first fruit. It can be so fast that the carrot that grows so slowly at the beginning has no chance and is simply overgrown. But it gets worse.

Different amounts of seeds
Chickweed produces tremendous amounts of seeds that germinate on the soil surface. After each digging, new seeds lie there and have the best starting conditions. Such weeds have the annoying property of being able to grow and flower even in winter, when it is only a few days above zero degrees. In addition, the seeds can germinate for many years.

The problem with crops: Carrots, if left, would not flower until the second year. Many ornamental plants take even longer. To get them through the winter, they form underground storage organs. Because of the nutrients, these survival organs are eaten by mice, but they always leave the weeds.

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Tips for gardeners
But gardeners do not have to stick their heads in the vegetable patch now. If you follow some advice, you can definitely control the weeds. The best strategy is to hoe up the top one to two inches of soil, never deeper.

What has already germinated dries up, and the loose and dry upper layer prevents further seeds from germinating. At the same time, much less water evaporates. “Hoeing once applies to watering twice,” is a well-known gardener’s adage. Less evaporation also means higher soil temperatures and thus faster growth of what you actually want.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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