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How to Dry Thistle

thistle image by Henryk Olszewski from

Although many gardeners find thistles a nuisance, consider a different approach to thistles when they grow in your lawn or garden areas. Whether you seek to dry thistle for medicinal benefits or crafting projects, thistle is a simple plant to preserve by air-drying. Thistles with fuzzy lavender blossoms are ideal for preserving because the flowers keep their shape after the stems dry.

Use the scissors to remove the leaves from the thistle stems. Discard the leaves.

Make small bunches of thistles by placing three to four stems together.

Secure the thistle bunches together with rubber bands.

Attach 6-inch-long lengths of string to the rubber bands, and tie the thistle bunches upside down in a warm and dark location.

Leave the hanging thistle stems undisturbed for at least one week and up to three weeks. The thistles are sufficiently dry when the flowers are stiff and bristly, and the stems are brittle.

Remove the thistle stems from their hanging location, and remove the rubber bands.

Place the dried thistles into an airtight container, and seal the lid tightly. Store the dried thistles in the airtight container until you need them. Dried thistles will keep indefinitely in the sealed container.

Kill Thistle & Not Juniper

Prepare a 2- to 3-percent mixture of a selective herbicide for broadleaf plants, such as triclopyr or 2-4,D. Use a ready-to-use formula, if possible, to avoid the need to mix the formula. Cut a 24-inch diameter circle from a piece of sturdy cardboard with a razor knife. Cut a straight line from the center circle to the outside of the large circle perimeter. This allows you to pull the circle apart slightly. Use bypass pruners to cut straight through the stems. The cardboard acts as a shield to prevent spraying the juniper. Check thistle plants frequently after one week for signs of drying and wilting leaves. It can take one to two weeks for the herbicide to seep into the thistle through the cut, stems and leaves, and kill the plants. Alternatively, you can pull the thistle out of the ground while wearing thick gloves or dig carefully to remove the roots without disturbing the juniper.

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