How to Protect Cotton Thistle


Cotton thistle is a hardy plant that grows in most soils and is very difficult to kill. It produces edible florets and can be used as a medicinal herb. Cotton thistle has actually been deemed a noxious weed in many locations because of its voracious growth. However, it is cultivated by herbalists for its oil. It is hard to imagine this coarse, spiny plant needs any additional protection. But scavenging animals, such as sheep and goats, can wreak havoc to a healthy cotton thistle plant. You can protect your cotton thistle and keep hungry animals away.

Step 1

Measure the area around your cotton thistle patch that you wish to protect. Be sure to measure 1 to 2 additional feet around the perimeter.

Step 2

Using wire cutters, cut the fencing into workable sections. Avoid cutting into many small pieces. Instead, use the largest pieces that are both easy to work with and cover sufficient ground.

Step 3

Arrange fencing. If your cotton thistle grows closely together, place the fencing around the outer edges of the patch. Fully cover the perimeter in order to prevent access into the patch. If your cotton thistle is spread out, place fencing around each individual plant. You might need to cut a hole in the center of the fencing and place it over the top of each plant.

Step 4

Tuck wire ends into the ground. As you cut sections to fit fencing pieces around plants, pushing the cut wire ends into the dirt helps secure the fencing. This will also prevent injury when working with the plants.

Step 5

Care for the plants as usual. Watering, fertilizing and trimming can be done with the fencing in place. If heavy soil work needs to be done, remove the fence pieces and replace when finished.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear gloves when handling fencing to avoid injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire cutters
  • 12- or 14-gauge field fencing
  • Gloves
  • Tape measure


  • Cotton Thistle
  • Backwoods Home Magazine
Keywords: cotton thistle, protect plants, fencing

About this Author

Kelsey Erin Shipman has worked as a travel writer, poet, journalist and award-winning photographer since 2004. Her work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and journals. Shipman has also authored three collections of poetry: "Cold Days," "Bastante" and "Short Poems." She earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Southwestern University.