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Russian thistle is the plant responsible for roadside tumbleweeds.

How to Get Rid of a Tumbleweed Plant

Russian thistle, commonly known as the tumbleweed plant, is a spiny non-native plant categorized as a noxious weed. Russian thistle is characterized by long, spiny green stems growing in a rounded mound. Hand weeding is the most effective form of control for residential landscapes. A well-maintained yard and garden helps to prevent the reappearance of Russian thistle.

Step 1

Identify tumbleweed plants by looking for the characteristic spiny stems. Wearing gloves to protect hands, grasp the plant by the base and pull upward to remove the plant from the ground.

Step 2

Place the removed tumbleweeds in heavy plastic bags, tie tightly and place in the garbage for disposal.

Step 3

Tend gardens and lawns regularly to promote healthy, vigorous growth of desired plants as Russian thistle is easily out-competed for space by thriving plants.

How to Eradicate Russian Thistle

Treat the area with a broad-spectrum pre-emergent herbicide in early spring. This works to kill the Russian thistle before it emerges from beneath the soil. Follow the directions on your package of herbicide to increase chances of success.

Mow the area in mid to late spring, with the lawn mower blades set at the lowest setting. No pre-emergent herbicide is 100 percent effective, and some Russian thistle seedlings may remain. It is essential that you mow the area to cut down existing Russian thistle weeds before they mature and set seed.

Spray the area with a broad-spectrum post-emergent herbicide. Post-emergent herbicides work to kill weeds that have already germinated. Again, follow the directions on your herbicide's package, to ensure you apply the chemicals properly.

Spray the area with both pre- and post-emergent herbicide (first one, then the other) in late spring and early summer. These two chemicals work together to kill ungerminated seeds, as well as Russian thistle seedlings.

How to Spray Thistles With Roundup

Thistle leaves and stems have spiny bristles.

Buy Roundup Weed and Grass Killer in the pump-up sprayer. This portable plastic spray rig is easy to carry around your yard.

Put on protective gloves. Trim away the plastic straps that hold the handle and wand in place.

Unwrap the hose and connect the end to the pump spout. Push the hose end until it locks in position.

Remove the sprayer wand from the bottle. Press the yellow button and at the same time pull the nozzle tip out. Stretch out the wand until the yellow button reads "SPRAY."

Check the connections to verify the handle, hose and pump are connected snugly. Pump the handle up and down about 20 times. This creates pressure in the bottle.

Point the wand at the thistle and push the white trigger using your thumb. Spray the thistle until it is saturated. The thistles should wither and die within 24 hours.

How to Kill Thistles

Thistles are unattractive weeds with sharp, prickly thorns.

Look for thistles in bare, sparse areas of the lawn and garden. Thistles thrive in areas where there is little to no grass growing.

Water the areas you find containing thistles with a garden hose. Soak the ground deeply and wait for 24 hours.

Dig up thistles with a shovel, taking care to remove the long center taproot. Do not allow roots to break while they are in the ground; it may cause new thistle growth in the future. Dispose of dug-up thistles promptly.

Rake the soil to smooth it out.

Sow grass seed or cover the bare area with wood mulch to prevent thistle growth.

Apply herbicide to the lawn and garden in early spring to kill thistles before they start to flower and produce seed. Triclopyr, metsulfuron and dicamba are effective in managing thistles.

Pour vinegar with acetic acid in it directly on thistle plants. The acetic acid is extremely aggressive, burning the tissues inside thistles, and may damage surrounding plants as well.

How to Kill Milk Thistle

Mix the herbicide with water (2 tsp. herbicide to 2 quarts of cool water or 8 oz. herbicide to 6 gallons of cool water) in the bucket.

Pour the herbicide mixture into the spray bottle, and seal the bottle tightly.

Apply the herbicide mixture directly onto the undesired milk thistle, saturating the plant generously. Spray the herbicide onto each thistle directly.

Monitor the condition of the milk thistles after you apply the herbicide. If you do not see the milk thistles visibly dying within one week, reapply the herbicide to stubborn milk thistle plants.

How to Spray Bleach on Thistle Heads

Mix equal amounts of chlorine bleach and water into a spray bottle. For fewer spills, use a funnel to transfer the bleach to the spray bottle.

Spray the thistle heads, and work your way down to the roots. Do not get the bleach mixture on your grass, plants or other vegetation in the area; however, if you accidentally do, immediately wash it off with a hose, or wipe it off with a damp rag or sponge.

Reapply as necessary, such as when you see new thistles emerge. Use straight chlorine bleach if the treated thistles do not die within a week.

How to Kill Bull Thistle

Wait until late spring or early summer when most of the bull thistles have begun to grow, but before most of them have flowered.

Mow the bull thistles or cut them down with pruning shears. You can also take a hoe and try to dig them up or at least damage the roots below their crowns. Repeat this step in one month for those bull thistles that grow later in the season.

Spray an herbicide after mowing to help kill and eliminate the bull thistles more quickly. Use an herbicide such as one that contains pricloram; 2,4-D; dicamba; or glyphosate. Application rates differ among herbicides and range between ½ to 1½ pounds per acre; therefore, adhere to the directions that are printed on the label.

How to Grow Thistle From Seed

Clear a patch of ground by removing all grasses and weeds. Turn the soil over to loosen it and rake the area smooth.

Scatter the thistle seeds liberally onto the prepared area; the best time to plant thistle seeds is in the cool wet days of spring and fall.

Rake 1 to 2 inches of dirt over the area to keep birds from eating the seeds.

Water the area for five to seven minutes or until the ground is wet to a depth of 3 inches. Test the depth of the moisture level in the ground by pressing your index finger into the soil.