There are a number of weed control options available to treat sow thistles. In addition to traditional weedkillers there are now also a range of more natural alternatives.
For best results, spray with a systemic weedkiller. A systemic weedkiller, which is absorbed by the leaves, then moves down to the roots to kill them.
To ensure the weedkiller works effectively:
- Spray the plants when they’re growing actively; this is mainly from April/May to September.
- The larger the leaf area present, the greater the amount of weedkiller that can be absorbed and move down to the roots. So don’t bother spraying when the growth first emerges through the soil – wait until the stems are around 60-90cm (2-3ft) high.
- Tall bamboos will be difficult to treat with a spray weedkiller, so cut down the canes first and then treat the re-growth. The younger leaves will also absorb the weedkiller more effectively.
- Use a fine spray to thoroughly coat the leaves in small droplets.
- During the summer, spray in the evening to prevent the spray evaporating and to give maximum time for the spray to be absorbed. In spring or if overnight dew is forecast, spray earlier in the day to allow the spray to dry before dew falls.
- One application of weedkiller is highly unlikely to completely kill it. You will need to spray once, allow it to die down, and then spray the regrowth again. Three or four applications a year, over several years, may be needed to completely kill it, depending on how extensive the root system is.
Tough formulations of weedkillers, or tree stump and root killers, will be more effective than the standard formulations.
A gel, which is smeared onto, and sticks to, the leaves, may be a better option than a liquid spray.
Contact weedkillers will damage or kill any plants whose leaves it is sprayed on. Make sure you keep the spray off wanted plants – including lawns – and, if necessary protect plants by covering with polythene or similar when spraying.
Use weedkillers safely. Always read the label and product information before use.