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How to Kill Spanish Moss

Spanish moss, an important form of shelter and food for wildlife, has also provided useful products to mankind for millennia. It isn’t a parasite. but a relative of the pineapple. It makes its own food so it won’t envelope and kill your tree, and clings there only because it needs a place to live. The plant absorbs volumes of water during rainfall, becoming very heavy when wet. Excessive weight breaks weak, damaged limbs -- hence, tales of usneoides destroying massive trees. Multiplying Spanish moss occasionally obstructs a tree’s air circulation, requiring thinning of the plant. If you feel that you must remove it, there are chemicals approved for killing usneoides. There are also effective alternatives that won’t injure our environment.

Grab handfuls of the Spanish moss. Large gobs of It will loosen easily and fall from its perch with a tug, similar to removing tinsel from a Christmas tree. Hand removal is the simplest and most efficient way to thin the plant.

Pull Spanish moss from lower limbs or smaller trees while standing on the ground and using a rake or pole saw. Step up on a ladder to remove bunches from higher in the tree if you’re able and have someone to accompany you during the project.

Pull particularly dense festoons of Spanish moss from areas that look like the moss may be obstructing the tree’s air circulation. If that’s not opening the canopy up enough, remove some of the limbs the moss is attached to with loppers or pruning shears.

Spray the Spanish moss with a copper-based herbicide before the tree buds out in early spring to avoid damaging new growth. Otherwise, wait until mid-summer to give young leaves time to toughen up. Read the label carefully. It may not cite “Spanish moss” as a plant to be treated, but will refer to it as “ball moss”. Basic Copper 53, Blue Shield, Micro Flo Copper 3 FL, Micro Flo Basic Copper 53 and TC Tribasic Copper Sulphate are materials licensed for controlling ball moss or Spanish moss. Follow packaging instructions precisely.


Consider leaving at least a portion of the Spanish moss intact to adorn your trees. It adds a quaint and charming special effect to the landscape.

Check around your area for artisans and crafters who would be interested in taking the moss off your hands. Many will even gladly come and remove it from the tree for you.

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