How And Why Do Weeds So Fast

Weeds grow and reproduce rapidly due to competing genes. Weeds also have very efficient seed dispersal mechanisms that dominate reproduction. For these reasons, weeds are found almost everywhere and, if left uncontrolled, can have detrimental effects on the environment. Let’s look specifically at why weed production is fast.

What Is A Weed?

“Weed” is not a scientific term used to identify a specific plant or plant family.

We often hear “weed” used to describe plants that grow in unwelcome places. We often associate weeds with plants that sprout in inconvenient places, and we usually pull them out by hand. They are a nuisance to our garden and we take the time to remove them one by one.

An example of a garden weed is the common dandelion bred as a wildflower. These plants produce bright yellow flowers in unexpected places in our backyards, front yards, driveways, and sidewalks.

Other weeds are more invasive and wreak havoc on local agriculture, such as poisonous weeds. The government believes these are harmful to natural habitats and ecosystems if not managed properly.

What is and is not a weed is a matter of opinion. However, common weeds share some common characteristics, such as:

  • plants growing in unfavorable locations
  • fast-growing plant
  • plants with extensive root systems
  • a plant that produces lots of seeds
  • Plants are capable of surviving in extremely harsh environmental conditions

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What Causes Weeds to Grow?

Like all plants, weeds need air, sunlight, water, and space to grow. However, many weeds can tolerate extreme conditions.

Dormant weed seeds may also germinate earlier in the growing season than ideal plant seeds. Certain species of weeds will germinate vigorously once the temperature rises to the minimum required for plant growth.

Planted plants and grasses may start growing a little later than the weeds, causing your desired plants to struggle to germinate in the soil already occupied by the weeds. Those fast-sprouting weeds will block sunlight from reaching your new shoots.

How Quickly Can Weeds Grow?

How Quickly Can Weeds Grow?

If the conditions are right, weeds can grow 2-3 inches in 24 hours. 2 inches might not sound like a lot, but when a cluster of crabapples sprouts grass blades in all directions, a few inches of growth on each blade can turn small trouble into a big weed.

Many weeds also have a very short life cycle. Chickweed completes its entire life cycle, from germination to flowering, to seeding and death, in 5-6 weeks. Because weeds have a short life cycle, it’s important to be vigilant and take steps to apply your herbicide of choice early. If you take your eyes off the garden for a few weeks, the next time you look, you may see clusters of blooming chickweed in your plants.

Can Weeds Grow Overnight?

In the right conditions, combined with rain and warm weather, weeds can grow 1-2 inches overnight. You can really go to sleep when the weeds seem to be under control and wake up to find the weeds taking over your garden and lawn.

The good news is that warm, humid weather is also fine for most lawn grasses and ideal plants. If you fight weeds, your other plants should be able to take advantage of this perfect weather and grow strong enough to resist future weed invasions.

How Do Weeds Spread

Weeds can be found everywhere because they have mechanisms that use the environment to spread seeds efficiently. Ways of spreading weed seeds include:


Weeds are smart seed spreaders because of their structure and the way they spread their seeds. Some weeds have long stems with clusters of flowers so that the seeds can easily attach to the shoes of passing pedestrians.

For example, tendril gum contains bright yellow flower heads covered with sticky resin. Sticky achenes facilitate seed transport.

Another example is tumbleweed, which begins as a plant and eventually falls off. It forms a ball that tumbles under the force of the wind, spreading the seeds along its path.

Redroot hogweed produces tiny, lightweight seeds that are dispersed to new locations by floating on the flood, irrigation, and tillage tools. Hogweed seeds have multiple dormancy mechanisms that allow the resulting seeds to germinate at different times of the year.

By Air

The seeds produced by most weeds are small and light.

For example, the common dandelion that produces puffballs contains dense seeds. When you were a kid, you would pick them up, blow them up, and watch them float into the air. This is why dandelions are difficult to manage, as their seeds float easily and are impossible to find until they germinate and grow out of the soil.

If weeds have larger seeds and are more susceptible to gravity, then it will be easier to identify weed-infested areas for management.

By animals

In addition to being able to pass weed seeds attached to animal fur, these seeds are also spread when eaten and excreted.

In one experiment (Beach, 1909), a Jersey cow was fed 6 pounds of flaxseed. Cows ate the seeds, and the few seeds found in the feces sprouted even after passing through the digestive tract. Several other studies have confirmed successful seed dispersal through consumption by cattle.

Viable weed seeds can also remain in a bird’s digestive tract for 8 to 12 hours. Birds are the vectors of weed seed dispersal. The seeds of many weeds can remain intact and survive in the guts of birds long enough to be transported for thousands of miles.

By water

Weed seeds are spread using currents in rivers and lakes.

The purple-striped weed thrives in wet and swampy areas, thus affecting streams and wetlands across the country. These weeds form dense clumps that fill wetlands and slow-moving bodies of water.

Why Do Weeds Grow Faster than Grass?

Why Do Weeds Grow Faster than Grass?

Here’s what we know about weeds:

  • Weeds germinate earlier than some other plants, often favoring root system establishment.
  • Weeds are highly adapted to their area.
  • If the conditions are right, weeds can grow 1-3 inches a day.

These factors could explain the fact that weeds seem to grow much faster than grasses. Weeds lead the way in growth, thrive in the local climate, and are able to grow quickly.

The good news is that your plants will grow similarly under ideal conditions (many lawn types of grass can grow an inch or more a day if the conditions are right). If you set a watering schedule that favors the plants you want, they can compete with weeds. Healthy lawns and gardens can even defend against weed invasions because there are fewer places for weeds to spread


Weeds grow quickly in our lawns and gardens because many types of weeds sprout from large roots in the ground, giving them energy in the spring. Weeds also thrive as local weed species adapt to their climate. Additionally, weeds are short-lived and need to go from germination to bloom in a very short time. Pay close attention. Weeds grow extremely rapidly and, if not controlled early, can overtake a yard or garden within days or weeks.