We have been told as kids to evade some weeds in the garden and nip them at an instant when we see them there because they are poisonous.
In one of those times, we might have asked the adult who nipped it about the nipped weed and they would tell you its pokeweed.
To make matters worse, you Googled what pokeweed is and it directed you to a site where it is listed as one of the most poisonous herbaceous plants in the world. Thus, it is but right to ask, how do we get rid of pokeweed?
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What is pokeweed?
Of course, we have to understand first where all this hate for pokeweed is coming from. So what is pokeweed? Well, it is considered an herbaceous plant native to the Americas. While it has always been considered poisonous, archives suggest that indigenous Native Americans as a cleansing medicine as it induces diarrhea and vomiting.
It is endemic in North and Midwest America, Gulf regions and even China. It goes by many names such as poke, cancer berry, Jekyll and Hyde plant and American nightshade.
It is used in traditional Appalachian cuisines as it tastes like asparagus (the toxic root and stem are clipped off).
While its other health benefits are not yet backed up by proven lab tests, the health community is not disregarding its potential health benefits. But for ordinary people like us, it will always be looked at as a poisonous weed.
If you do not know what they look like, here is a photo of the pokeweed:
7 natural ways to get rid of pokeweed
1. Removing pokeweed shoots by hand
Yes this looks easy but it only words under one criterion: the soil you are removing the pokeweed from should be light soil or else, this first natural way will only end up with more pokeweed if they are not uprooted by the root. It is not about just pulling from the top though. You have to support it from the base like harvesting a carrot.
2. Digging larger pokeweeds
This alternative will require you to dig deeply until you reach the taproot. This means that you will have to dig around the plant at 12 inches in diameter and depth. You will need a spade for this and it will surely make time. Or a rototiller to loosen up the soil and make the digging easier.
3. Sun the pokeweeds
So you have them all dug up but you just churned them all on the side. Pokeweed is very adaptive and you want to get rid of them for good.
To do this, you have to take them aside but away from the soil (like used tarpaulins, sacks, etc.) and put them directly under the sun to dry out and die. Make sure that they are dried before you stack them up in a bin, burn them or bury them in the compost.
4. Constant pokeweed removal
As have been mentioned, pokeweed is a survivor, even at the hardest conditions so constantly checking pokeweed growth is very crucial. At the spot of reemergence, pull them off instantly. Once every two weeks is a good checking time.
5. Raking the soil after pulling out
As soon as you are able to pull out the pokeweed by the root, you have to rake the soil to disturb the compactness of where they used to grow. While this is optional, it has proven to be a good way to stop pokeweed overgrowth especially if you water the soil with some herbicide mixture after.
6. Apply glyphosate
The most potent pokeweed controller to date is glyphosate. It is very easy to do. You just have to spray or apply a generous amount of it directly to the roots of the pokeweed so essentially you still have to undergo the digging around the plant part. This will take some time but only for the digging part so anytime, you’re good to go.
7. Distilled vinegar
Pouring distilled vinegar is also one of the most proven weed killers and not just for pokeweed.
The natural acid in distilled vinegar will burn the roots of the pokeweed instantly. A good solution to kill pokeweed is 50% water and 50% distilled vinegar. Spraying the solution in the pokeweed everyday will do the trick.
To conclude, getting rid of pokeweed for good, though some involves quite the effort is for your own good. Nothing comes close to prioritizing safety, not only for you but for your pets as well.
These natural ways can be done DIY so take it as another gardening errand to do. They would require some specific materials though, so it is best to let them come in handy because if you do not get rid of the pokeweed to the root, they will just come back again.