The thistle plant is one of the most persistent and stubborn plants that you are going to come across, and it could wreak havoc on your garden if you are not careful. Known to many people as the Canada thistle or the creeping thistle, it’s a name given to a group of different flowering plants that can be differentiated by their leaves. The plant is also known for the sharp prickles that usually develop on the stem.
The prickles can occur all over the plant, and they generally develop over time. The prickles are actually a form of evolution, which were developed over time to prevent the plant from being devoured by herbivores. Thistle can affect your garden in a litany of different ways.
It is one of the most stubborn weeds out there, and could cause extensive damage to your entire garden space if you are not careful. There are quite a few different ways by which you can get rid of thistle, but you should know that there is no concrete way to get rid of thistle overnight.
In fact, at the very least, it’s going to take you around two to three growing seasons to completely get rid of thistle from your garden. Most people see thistle growing in their gardens every now and then. It’s a common type of weed, but it’s also incredibly tough to deal with.
The issue with thistle is that it spreads from the air. The flower heads on the thistle plant contain thousands of other thistle seeds, and they can spread at a very exponential rate. If you want to get rid of weeds growing in your lawn, there are quite a few options available to you.
Thistle is an incredibly difficult weed to eliminate from your lawn, especially when you consider that a single musk thistle is capable of spreading around 120,000 seeds from a single flower. On top of that, they can grow to heights of up to six feet. Completely eliminating thistle is not easy, and can take several years at the very least.
Remember, if you have thistle the first year, you are going to have even more of it the next year, and the population is only going to grow with time unless you take action. Now, you should know that there are quite a few different weed killers available in the market that you can use to get rid of this pesky little weed, but you have to be careful.
The last thing that you would want is to use a weed killer that could cause harm to your pets or your children who are also playing out in the yard. But, there are a few simple tips that could help you get rid of this weed from your yard. Here are a few simple things that you can do to get rid of the infestation.
Killing the Thistle
Before you can get started with removing the thistle from your property, the first thing that you need to know is that there are two common types of thistles, and there are two distinct ways of attacking the weeds. The first is the Bull Thistle, which is also commonly known as the spear thistle. This is a biennial plant.
Then, you have the Canada thistle, which is a perennial plant. When it comes to using different extraction methods, you need to make sure that you note the differences first.
1 – Hand Pull the Young Thistle
Bull thistle is the more common variety of thistle that you are going to come across. Because it is a biennial plant, the plant usually creates a small rosette when it forms just above the ground level. This generally happens during its first year of growth. Over the passage of time, the plant continues to develop a much more expansive root system.
The Bull Thistle is much easier to remove when compared with the Canada Thistle, but that doesn’t mean that you should take it lightly. The best way to get rid of this thistle is to pull it out, especially when the flowerheads are still young and haven’t been able to lay down enough roots.
You can do this quite easily using a set of simple tools, such as a hand rake, a small shovel, or even a small fork to get the weed out. Before you start digging out the weed from the soil, you will need to first wet it. This is going to help loosen the soil a bit, which will ultimately allow you to dig with much more efficiency.
Also, make sure that you don’t just leave the discarded weeds out in the garden. It’s best if you place them in a bag and then get rid of them properly. It’s best to toss out the whole thing once you are done with the weeding process.
2 – Create a Basic Weed Killing Formula
Now, it’s obvious that you won’t just have to deal with Bull Thistle all the time. There are going to be times where you will be confronted with the pesky problem of the Canada thistle. The Canada thistle has a considerably more complex root system as compared to its biennial counterpart.
Importantly, due to the complicated design, you need to make sure that you remove the thistle as efficiently as you can, but this won’t be possible if you try to do it by hand. No, it’s much more efficient if you make use of a weed killer to get rid of the problem.
One of the best ways to get rid of a weed infestation in your garden is to make use of acetic acid. There’s no need for you to go out and buy the acid yourself; you will probably have quite a store of acetic acid available in your pantry already. In the simplest of terms, acetic acid is just your old-fashioned vinegar.
Acetic acid is widely regarded as a potent poison ivy killer, and it’s completely organic. It’s able to kill weeds directly on impact, especially when you combine it with other ingredients, such as salt or dish soap.
Now, while highly concentrated vinegar is going to do an excellent job, you should know that conventional vinegar will work just as well. You can also find horticultural vinegar in the market, which contains around 20% acetic acid.
But, you need to know that this is not an overnight process. You will have to spray the weed at least once a week until it completely dries out.
Once the weed withers and completely dies out (it will turn a shade of brown), you can then remove it from the ground. Because it will be completely dead, removing it from the ground won’t require much of an effort on your part.
If you want, this excellent solution can also be used for getting rid of creeping Charlie in your garden as well. Most varieties of weeds tend to respond very quickly to this type of treatment, and will die almost immediately.
3 – Homemade Thistle Killer Using Gin
This might come as a surprise to most people, but gin can actually be an effective tool for combating a thistle infestation.
Thistle doesn’t just spread with the seeds from their flowers, but they also spread through rhizomes. Rhizomes are the roots that run underneath the ground, and one of the best ways to deal with this problem is to create a gin spray that directly attacks the weeds at their roots.
This will stop the ability of the plant to spread via the roots, and you won’t have much to worry about! To make a gin-based thistle killer, you are going to need at least two ounces of gin, and one ounce of apple cider vinegar. Mix the two together, and then add one tablespoon of liquid-based dish soap. Finally, pour in a quart of water, and you are good to go.
Make sure you shake the solution carefully and mix it properly before usage. Apart from being one of the best weapons for killing the root system of the thistle and various other kinds of unwanted weeds, you should know that this recipe is also suitable for getting rid of all other kinds of weeds as well.
Once you treat a particular area with this solution, getting rid of the weeds isn’t going to be a problem. Again, it’s also important that you take preventative measures to ensure that thistle doesn’t grow in the same place again. This involves making sure that you mow the area properly and prevent the thistle from developing.
4 – Using Roundup
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making solutions that are free of chemicals or other harmful ingredients, you might want to consider going for a store-bought alternative such as Roundup. Chemical herbicides are commonly available from a number of different sources, and using them means that you don’t have to bother with preparation of any kind before you do.
These are commercial products that can get rid of different kinds of weeds for you, such as thistle or dandelions without much of a problem. One of the main agents in Roundup that is activated is glyphosate. This agent is able to penetrate deep within the ground, and is able to attack the roots of the plant.
When you make use of this thistle spray, you need to make sure that you coat each and every stem of thistle to the point where the spray is literally dripping off of it and going into the soil. If there are other plants nearby that you want to shield from the Roundup, you need to make sure that you use a bit of cardboard at the very least.
Also, you need to allow at least three days to pass before you see any result for the thistle plants. If the plants have begun to wilt and brown over the passage of time, you can just pull them up from the ground then.
5 – Using Lemon Juice
If you don’t want to take the chemical route for your plants, you should know that lemon juice is also an effective weed killer.
When it comes to destroying weeds, lemon juice acts in a similar manner to vinegar, and can do a fantastic job. The extremely high acidic level in the lemon juice is able to break down the composition of the plant properly, and will dry it out completely from the inside out.
The process works much faster if you do it in the summertime, because the hot, sunny days are going to juice out all of the moisture from the plant quickly. If you pour the lemon juice properly on the plant, it’s not going to take very long.
To make the solution, you are going to have to mix at least half a cup of lemon juice with a quart of white, distilled vinegar. Then, just pour everything into an empty spray bottle, and you are good to go.
You are going to have to apply the solution over the weeds a few times at the very least. This is going to destroy the weeds very quickly without much of an issue.
Alternatively, you can also create a solution using bleach as well, so that’s also an option. Remember, it’s all about knowing what can kill the thistle, and then using it to your advantage.
More importantly, you need to be a bit careful when administering the solution. These are generally potent solutions and can cause harm to other plants as well. Therefore, it’s recommended that you take a bit of care when administering the solution.
The best thing to do to prevent the solution from spreading to other plants in your garden is to put cardboard all around it. This is going to contain the problem, and will make it easy for you to kill the thistle without much of a problem.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.