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20 fastest-growing weeds and their removal methods

Weeds grow faster than other plants because they reproduce by efficiently dispersing seeds. Also, most weeds have a short growth period between germination and flowering.

Such weeds can complete seed production immediately after flowering. As a result, they can destroy good crops like sugar beets, soybeans, and other vegetables.

Properly managing fast-growing weeds is important to prevent them from spreading and competing with desired plants. 

But what are the examples of fastest-growing weeds, and how can you remove them?

1. Bindweed

Bindweed. Image:Flickr/My Wild Back Garden

Bindweed is a genus of over 200 species of flowering plants identified by their thin thread-like vines. It is native to Europe but is now naturalized worldwide.

The perennial weed spreads from an extensive rootstock and seed. It can be noxious to other plants because the vines wrap themselves tightly to plants. However, the plant reproduces from roots, rhizomes, and stem fragments.

Bindweed can grow fast because the seeds can lie dormant in the soil for many years. Therefore, the best way of removing it is through repeated applications of a pre-emergent herbicide or hoeing.

2. Crabgrass

Crabgrass - Digitaria sanguinalis
Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis)

Crabgrass is an invasive warm-season grass that reproduces by seeds. It also has a prolific branching habit, with a single plant producing hundreds of tillers and seeds.

Crabgrass is an annual weed found in almost every landscape or turf. It is native to Europe or Eurasia and is distributed worldwide.

Crabgrass can be annoying because it thrives well in lawns. You can identify it by its coarse-textured, yellowish-green colour.

You can eliminate crabgrass by applying a granular, selective, pre-emergent herbicide. Alternatively, prune or pull the plant whenever it appears using specialized tools.

3. Dandelion

Dandelions. Image by: Flickr/ Vlad

The Dandelion is one of the worst invasive weeds. The perennial plant is native to Eurasia but widespread throughout North America.

You can identify the weed by its deeply lobed leaves and composite flower heads with bright yellow flowers. Dandelions grow fast because one plant can produce up to 15,000 seeds.

Once dandelions invade your garden or lawn, kill them by digging the weeds by the roots because of their taproot system. Alternatively, you can spray them with a herbicide.

However, if you’ve only spotted a few, simply remove them using dandelion removal tools.

4. Chickweed

Chickweed. Image: Flickr/Ellen

Chickweed is a cold-season annual plant recognisable by the line of hairs down its stem. The plant is native to Europe and naturalized worldwide.

Chickweed is one of the weeds that grow tall. The weed can grow up to 18 inches. However, its stem usually sprawls across the ground.

Chickweed thrives in cool, moist, and shaded areas. You will often find it in cultivated fields, pastures, gardens, shady lawns, roadsides, and plantation crops.

You can manage chickweed by hand-pulling or hoeing the plant before it sets seed. Mulching can also prevent its seeds from germinating.

5. Clover

Clover. Image: Flickr/Antonella

Clover is a genus of over 200 plants native to Europe. The perennial weed has rhizomatous stems that grow up to 30 cm long and have a three-leaf structure.

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Clover grows easily in moist fields. Since it is a plant in the legume family, clover naturally fixes nitrogen in the soil. That gives it the property of growing faster in the right conditions.

You can get rid of clover by treating it with a herbicide. Alternatively, consider hand-pulling, hoeing, or mulching to prevent seed germination.

6. Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie. Image by: Flickr/Tom Clark

Creeping Charlie is an aromatic, perennial, evergreen weed of the mint family native to Europe. It is also among the worst weeds in the world because it spreads by seeds that can disperse to many areas.

Creeping Charlie gets its name because it has creeping stems or stolons. The plant grows well in moist, shady spots, including under shrubs and trees.

The best way of controlling Creeping Charlie is by mowing the affected area regularly at a height of about three inches. 

Fertilising, overseeding in the fall, and watering the lawn well are other methods of eliminating the plant.

7. Fat hen

Fat hen
Fat hen. Image:Flickr/James

Fat hen is among the annoying weeds that grow fast from seeds. The annual plant, native to Europe, grows between 0.2 and 2 metres tall and has matt green, diamond-shaped leaves and white flowers.

Fat hen grows quickly around the open ground, competing with other weeds and plants for nutrients. Also, the weed can out-compete re-seeded areas of grass.

Tackle Fat hen early or immediately once you notice it growing in your garden or lawn. However, other techniques you can use include hoeing to remove young seedlings and pulling by hand before it sets seed.

8. Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy
Ground Ivy. Image: Flickr/Ann

Ground Ivy is a perennial scrambling herbaceous plant native to Eurasia. It is also a low-growing, creeping weed that spreads by seed and stolons that root at the nodes.

You can identify Ground Ivy with its opposite, heart-shaped, scalloped leaves and square stems. It mostly grows in moist areas like floodplains, low woods, and disturbed sites.

Ground Ivy is a vigorous grower that spreads across the ground, forming dense patches that push out native plants. Therefore, the best removal methods include herbicide application, hand-pulling, or raking.

9. Henbit

Henbit. Image by: Flickr/K&E

Henbit is an annual or biennial weed native to Europe and Asia and is a member of the mint family. The plant commonly grows in waste areas, landscapes, and no-till fields.

You can identify Henbit by its greenish to purplish, tender stems. Although its stems grow upright, they can also root at the lower nodes.

Henbit has a shallow taproot that becomes branched. Because of the taproot system, removal methods include hand-pulling or hoeing the plant to remove all root fragments. 

Also, a pre-emergent herbicide applied in the fall can prevent henbit from germinating.

10. Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed
Japanese knotweed. Image: Flickr/John

Japanese knotweed is one of the many invasive garden weeds. It is a herbaceous perennial plant native to Japan, North China, Taiwan, and Korea.

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Japanese knotweed can grow up to ten feet tall. It has hollow, bamboo-like stems with purple speckles, and its leaves are large, heart-shaped, and pointed at the tip.

Japanese knotweed can grow up to ten centimetres a day during the summer and overwhelm other plants. 

Therefore, remove it by digging up the entire plant and its extensive root system or applying a selective herbicide to kill it.

There are several other organic ways of removing Japanese Knotweed.

11. Johnson grass

Johnson grass
Johnson grass. Image: Flickr/AZ

Johnson grass is an annoying perennial grass weed. It is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and Africa.

Johnson grass grows to a height of eight feet. It has wide leaves with thickened whitish midribs.

The weed mainly grows in fertile soils. It is invasive and can reduce corn, grain, soybean, cotton, and leguminous forage yields.

You can control Johnson grass by digging up its roots. Alternatively, use a glyphosate-based herbicide to prevent the plant from germinating.

12. Kudzu

Kudzu. Image: Flickr/autofculture

Kudzu is a semi-woody, trailing or climbing perennial vine. It is one of the worst and fastest-growing invasive vine weeds native to Asia.

Kudzu has large, trifoliate leaves, each with three leaflets. The weed can grow up to 0.3 meters per day in early summer and up to 18 meters during the growing season.

Also, Kudzu can grow in nearly any type of soil. Therefore, the best removal methods include chemical control, where you repeatedly apply a herbicide. Hoeing can also help remove the entire root system.

 13. Morning glory

Morning glory
Morning glory. Image: Flickr/Tom

Morning glory is a fast-growing flowering vine native to Mexico, Central America, and South America. It thrives well in warm, sunny spots.

Morning glory produces large, heart-shaped leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers in various colours, including blue, red, purple, or pink.

Because of its fast-growing properties, Morning glory requires a combination of physical and chemical management to eliminate it. 

In other words, use a hoe to remove its roots or pull the weed by hand. Alternatively, apply a pre-emergent herbicide to kill the plant.

14. Nutsedge

Nutsedge. Image:Flickr/Ryan

Nutsedge is a perennial weed native to many parts of the world. It grows actively during the frost-free season with stiffer and thicker leaves.

The plant also has a triangular stem in cross-section. During its growth cycle, Nutsedge reproduces by seed and underground tubers. These can remain dormant in the ground for several years.

Thus, chemical application is the best way of removing Nutsedge. Alternatively, you can dig out the plant to remove all its root fragments. 

Reducing soil moisture and fertility can also help reduce the weed populations in your garden.

15. Oxalis

Oxalis. Image by: Flickr/rinronmari

Oxalis is a cool-season perennial weed native to North America but naturalized in the central United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Japan, and New Zealand. 

It is an erect and readily branching weed that often forms dense mats from rhizomes.

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Oxalis has leaves divided into three to ten leaflets. All the leaflets arise from a single point on the plant. It also has solitary flowers with five petals.

Oxalis forms adventitious roots when growing. Therefore, you can get rid of the weed by hand-pulling or hoeing. 

But to prevent its seeds from spreading, remove the plant while young and developing before the flowers and seed capsules form.

16. Pigweed

Black Pigweed - Trianthema portulacastrum
Black Pigweed – Trianthema portulacastrum

Pigweed is also known as amaranth. It is an edible weed in most parts of the world, especially in Africa. However, the plant is native to North and South America.

Pigweed is a summer annual weed that also acts as a perennial weed. It has oval to diamond-shaped leaves, which alternate on the stem. The plant also produces green, red, or purple flower clusters.

Pigweed is easy to hand pull. You can also use a hoe to remove the weeds from your garden. But as one of the annual weeds, a pre-emergent herbicide will kill it and prevent its future regrowth.

17. Poison ivy

Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy. Image by: Flickr/Lana Pahl

Poison ivy is a woody perennial plant native to North America. It usually grows as a low, spreading shrub with fine stems. In other cases, it grows as an upright, three-foot-tall shrub or a woody vine.

Poison ivy has compound leaves with three glossy and smooth-edged leaflets. The plant also produces small, greenish-white flowers in the spring and white berries in the fall.

You can remove Poison ivy from your garden through hoeing to remove the entire root system. However, the permanent method involves the application of a herbicide.

18. Purslane

Purslane. Image:Flickr/Alyss

Purslane is a summer annual broadleaf weed native to North Africa, the Middle East, and India. It grows rapidly in spring and summer and is an important agricultural weed in some parts of the world.

Purslane has succulent leaves and stems. However, its stems are smooth and reddish and originate from a single taproot.

Although Purslane is an edible plant, it is a weed in many areas. And since it has a taproot system, you can remove it through hand pulling or hoeing.

19. Ragweed

Common Ragweed
Ragweed. Image: Wikimedia

Ragweed is an annual and sometimes perennial weed native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. It usually grows a few centimetres tall but can exceed four metres.  

Ragweed has erect, decumbent, or prostrate stems that grow from rhizomes. It has alternately arranged leaves and leaf blades that come in various shapes.

Weed and feed fertilisers are best to control Ragweed in established and actively growing lawns. However, proper management requires the removal of Ragweed before the plant reaches its seed-producing stages.

20. Thistle

Bull Thitsle
Thitsle Image by: Flickr/Jim Munson

Thistle is a name given to a group of plants in the Asteraceae family. These plants are characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins.

Thistles can be annual or perennial plants. These weeds are native to North America, Europe, and Asia.

Thistles grow to a few centimetres tall or exceed five feet tall with dark to light purple flower heads. You can remove them using a stand-up weeding tool to uproot the individual plants.

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