An American wildflower, many gardeners plant milkweed for one reason – to attract butterflies. They have a luring fragrance that will make butterflies love your garden. They also have exquisite and beautiful blooms, making it a good way to improve the aesthetics of the garden.
However, milkweed is not always good to have in the garden. It can also be a pesky weed. For this reason, a lot of people are curious about how to kill milkweed. It is a self-seedy plant and can multiply quickly. They can also be invasive and can deprive garden plants with the nutrients that are essential for their survival.
What is Milkweed
Milkweed is a part of the Asclepias family. There are more than a hundred species of the plant that you can find around the world. Historically, people grew this plant because of its medicinal value. Today, it is more popular as a flower that is grown in butterfly gardens. It is also excellent for attracting bees.
As noted in the introduction, milkweed can be a two-edged sword. It can be a great addition to the garden because it attracts butterflies. Nonetheless, it is important to take note that it is still a kind of weed, and hence, it can end up being invasive.
How to Kill Milkweed
Controlling and killing milkweed can be a challenging task, especially for novice gardeners. They have hundreds of fluffy seeds and they can spread easily in windy environments. It is also important to note that milkweed has pappus, which serves as a parachute that helps it to travel quicker.
Once seeds reach the ground, they can germinate within a short span of time, allowing them to easily form extensive roots. If they do not germinate immediately, they will still remain viable. To add, they are challenging to control because they can tolerate a wide array of herbicides.
For the effective control of milkweeds, below are some of the methods that are worth considering.
Hand Removal of Milkweed
This is often the best solution to consider, although it will require quite an effort on your end, especially if you have a huge garden. Here are the simple steps to follow:
- Wear gloves to protect your hand from the sharp edges of the weed.
- Grasp the milkweed on its stem and cut it from the top. This will make it shorter and easier to remove.
- After cutting, grasp the weed in clumps and shake it from the ground, which will make the soil softer. Also, dig the ground using a shovel to make your job easier.
- Lift the stem and the root of the milkweed. Make sure to not leave any trace of the root or rhizome. Otherwise, you are just wasting your time as the milkweed will grow again.
- When you are done, place everything that you have removed in a sealed bag and throw it far from the garden. Sweep the area and see to it that no traces of milkweed have remained.
An easier way to kill milkweed is to use a spray. Here’s how you can do it:
- Choose the right timing of spray application. Ideally, you should not spray when it is windy to make sure that you will only be targeting the milkweed and not the other plants around the area to be treated.
- Pick the right herbicide. This can be challenging since milkweed can resist most of the herbicides in the market. For the best outcomes, choose one that contains glyphosate. Picloram can also be effective but you have to check with local laws as it is illegal in some areas.
- Wear mask and goggles before you proceed. Spray directly on the milkweed. Avoid over-spraying.
Regardless of the method that you will choose, it is important to note that milkweed can be poisonous, which is why observing extreme caution is necessary when handling the weed. The milky sap is the one with the highest concentration of poison.
Hand-pulling and the use of spray are two of the best methods on how to kill milkweed. To be effective, make sure to use the right products and throw the weed away from the garden to avoid re-growth.