How Do Weeds Grow?

Weeds grow so quickly and seemingly spring up from no where. How are they able to grow so fast?

I am always amazed by the weeds in my garden and how quickly they spread. I spend so much time and effort tending to my plants, and these weeds magically appear without any care whatsoever. How does this happen?

In this article, I’ll explain why these opportunistic plants proliferate.

Why Do Weeds Grow 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a weed as a plant out of place. It is essentially a plant growing in the wrong place. For example, a cornstalk in a field of soybeans is a weed. A weed is only a weed because humans label various plants as such. 

There are no actual weeds in nature. 

We may try to influence nature for our benefit, but nature is stubborn and persistent. While our efforts suppress some weeds, hardier individual plants or species thrive. Weeds are naturally fierce competitors, squeezing out more desirable plants in our lawns and gardens

white clover flowers in the garden

In general, weeds have excellent root systems. Usually, they produce an abundance of seeds, allowing them to spread into other areas quickly. Many common weeds remain hidden and dormant to survive the winter.

They grow quickly because their dormant root systems store a lot of energy for spring growth. The weeds in your yard are adapted to the soil and other existing growing conditions. Plants purchased from a store and grown from seed take time to acclimate to their new environments. 

Weeds have an advantage over the plants and grasses we cultivate and may appear to have taken over your landscape or garden. They are frequently native plants that thrive in the environment, which aids in their rapid growth compared to desirable plants, which may be non-native. They often begin growing before the wanted garden plants can establish themselves.

beautiful dandelion flowers in the field

How Do They Grow With Little Water?

Different weed species exist in different regions, many of which have evolved to thrive there. As a result, they survive even in dry areas.

They can survive without water due to adaptation. Weeds are common because they thrive without human cultivation. Don’t expect nature to kill them because they are prepared to withstand anything the elements can throw at them.

sunflower plant on a dry soil

How Fast Do They Grow?

Depending on the species, weeds can grow as much as 2 to 3 inches daily in the right conditions. When a crabgrass cluster shoots grass blades in all directions, a few inches of growth on each blade transforms a minor annoyance into a significant problem.

Many weeds have extremely short life cycles as well. For example, chickweed completes its life cycle in about 5 to 6 weeks, from germination to blooming to seeding to dying. Because of their short life cycles, it’s critical to be on the lookout for them and eliminate them as soon as possible using your preferred elimination method. If you neglect your garden for a few weeks, you might find clusters of blooming weeds among your other plants.

pulling out some female weeds

How Do You Get Rid of Them?

Weeds can be removed using various methods, including chemical herbicides, mulching, and solarization (covering with clear plastic). However, manually removing them by digging them up is the best option for the environment.

I recommend you begin weeding as soon as you notice them in your lawn or garden. Waiting will only give them more time to develop roots and become more difficult to pull. 

It is easiest to pull weeds when they are small. Grab the weed at the base to prevent regrowth and pull out the roots. You can also use various weeding tools on the market to help with the task.

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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