How do weeds grow so fast?

If you’re a gardener, then one of your biggest problems is always going to be weeds.

Weeds can take over your garden in an instant, and knowing what kinds to look out for and how to get rid of them can save you a lot of time and money (not to mention frustration.

They are plants that grow where they are not wanted, and while they might be considered beautiful when they grow in the right place, having them grow where you want to plant your veggies or flowers is no good.

How and why do weeds grow so fast?

Firstly, many weeds have short life cycles,  growing from a seed to a flower in just a few weeks. This gives them an advantage over your slow-growing plants or lawn.

Weeds often grow from dormant root systems in the Autumn, which can produce explosive growth in Spring. These root systems have had time to establish themselves in your garden, while your newer plants may not. 

Finally, weeds often grow faster than the desirable plants in your garden because they have been growing in the same soil for years, and are more adapted to local conditions than plants that are new to the area. This can happen regardless of when they are a native species or not.

What type of weeds grow in Australia?

There are many different types of weeds in Australia, but the most common fall into these three groups: annuals, biennials, and perennials.

You might be surprised to see how many different types of weeds you’ll find in your garden. Below we’ll cover some of the most common types of weeds that grow in Australian gardens.

Bindii

Bindii is an annual plant with root-like stems that grow from the centre in a rosette form. The stem grows to about four centimeters in diameter and is covered in fine hairs and thinly-spaced spines.

It flowers between autumn and winter. The flowers are very small (3mm). After the flower’s petals fall off, it produces a black spike which holds hundreds of small seeds which are brown when mature. Seeds are spread by foot traffic or by animals.

As with most invasive species, the best way to get rid of it is simply to pull it out at its roots by hand.

Dandelion

A dandelion weed is a common garden weed that can be found throughout Australia.

Dandelions are in the same family as chicory, lettuce, endive, and radicchio. The most noticeable characteristic of this type of weed is its large taproot, which can grow up to 6 feet long. The leaves are bright green and hollow with jagged edges. The plant itself grows to between 1 and 2 feet tall with yellow flowers. It reproduces by seeds that are created when the flower is pollinated.

The plant originates from Eurasia but has now spread throughout the globe in many different countries. In Australia, it flourishes along roadsides and in fields where they have been disturbed or abandoned.

A dandelion has the ability to quickly colonize disturbed soils. It thrives anywhere there is bright sunlight and loose topsoil. It germinates early in the spring when soil temperatures rise above 10 degrees Celcius.

Soursobs

Soursobs are often mistaken for clover because of their leaf resemblances. Soursobs spread with a clover-like growth pattern, producing flowers with 5 petals and long roots. Soursobs like to grow in the cooler months of late autumn and winter.

The problem with soursobs is that they are extremely resilient to herbicides, have a fast-growing system of onion-like bulbs growing beneath the ground, and have small secondary bulbs known as bulbils.

Soursob has bulbs that grow underground, making it difficult to kill by simply digging out the weed. There are several methods to get rid of Soursob: you can dig out the entire plant and bulbs or lift out the bulbs and be gentle so that you don’t leave anything behind for new Soursob to sprout again.

Some people suggest that you should let your lawn grow until it flowers, then mow it off every week. This is done in order to suffocate the weed at its weakest stage. Once your lawn has established roots, it will fight back against Soursob and eventually win.