Thistle – A Prickly Customer

Thistle. For those of you familiar with this weed, that’s all I have to write to get a cringe. Thistle is the weed that just won’t go away. We are in Baltimore, Maryland, but you could be anywhere on the East Coast, or across the US for that matter. Some are native and some are introduced invasive varieties.

I have tried to eradicate it from my gardens for several years now. I have gotten closer but not quite all of it is gone. There are a couple of tricky things with thistle. One, if you leave even a little of the root in the ground it will come back the next year. Two, if any single plant goes to seed you will have more work next year. This weed is more annoying than others because it has prickly stem and leaves, which makes it very unpleasant to pull up. Now that you are sufficiently warned, how do you get rid of them?

I’ll walk you through the several things I have tried to get rid of them. Disclaimer: These are just techniques I have tried and seem to work…

Dig out the root:

As I stated earlier, it is extremely important to get the whole root. This can be an unpleasant and difficult task if you wait until the thistle grows. It is best to try to dig out the root when they are young.

Clip the Bloom/Seeds:

            If you can’t get to all of the thistles when they are young, at least prevent them from spreading about your yard. The best way is to cut off the blooms before they spread their pesky seeds further.

Use a pesticide (like RoundUp):

This will help for thistles that are not mixed up among all your other plants. Unfortunately, most thistles are in the thick of things, so using a pesticide might kill the plants you want to keep.

Using a weed preventer (like Preen):

A weed preventer is effective when used in the spring before the plants really get going and putting down roots. It also works on most other weeds as well which makes it a very nice tool against weeds.

I hope I have helped you fight back thistle if you are struggling with that problem. If not, I hope I have convinced you to tackle the problem quickly.

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