One of the worst nightmares of every gardener is to have pokeweed in their yard. Aside from being unwelcomed, this invasive weed also contains toxic sap that can cause rashes. They can also be fatal when ingested.
For the safety of your livestock, pets, or family, you need to control this invasive weed as soon as possible.
Pokeweed was known and widely utilized in America many years ago. Native Americans utilized pokeweed for medicinal purposes. On the other hand, some people add it to their food.
While the plant looks appealing and beautiful with a lot of juicy green leaves and blackberries, many people don’t like it due to its toxic sap.
Even if you want to have pokeweed in your garden, you might want to limit its amount.
Getting rid of pokeweed does not require a lot of time. However, you’ve got to do it very carefully.(Learn What Kills Weeds Permanently)
What is Pokeweed?
Phytolacca americana, commonly known as pokeweed, is an herbaceous perennial weed native to the Southern US. The plant has already reached other parts of the country. That is why it is a nuisance.
People often call pokeweed different names. This includes Poke, Pokan Bush, American Nightshade, Inkberry Coakun, Cancer Root, Pigeon Berry, and Poke Root.
Pokeweed can quickly spread. For those who don’t know, a single plant can produce around 50,000 seeds in its entire lifespan.
Birds usually eat the fruit of a pokeweed and drop its seed. That is why it has easily expanded throughout the country.
Under the right conditions, pokeweed seeds can stay viable for around 40 years. So, how to get rid of pokeweed? Let’s find out. (Read Weeds With White Flowers)
How to Identify Pokeweed?
How to get rid of pokeweed? The first thing you have to do is to identify it. It’s pretty simple to identify pokeweed. There is a huge possibility that you’ve already seen this invasive weed.
Pokeweed has a woody and red steam with oval leaves. The leaves can reach up around 10 inches in length. During its flowering season, this weed has green flowers and grape-like clusters of berries.
Pokeweed is a bit deceiving. Though its berries may look tasty, you should not consider eating them. The fruit can result in some unpleasant reactions.
One of the major reasons people choose to remove pokeweed is that kids might try to eat the berries. The fruit looks sweet, and kids are curious beings.
Eating 1-2 berries usually will not lead to fatal results. It’s filled with toxic compounds that are hazardous for kids. Though the roots are the most toxic part of the plant, each part has some toxicity.
How to Get Rid of Pokeweed?
There are a couple of techniques for getting rid of pokeweed. Almost every individual utilizes a combination of these techniques to remove the weed properly.
However, it would help if you kept in mind that pokeweed might return after you remove them. Thus, it’s ideal for keeping an eye on your yard and keeping up with the removal process.
Use Your Hands when Removing Tiny, new shoots. You should not simply pull on the top of the weed. You’ve got to grab the plant firmly at the base and pull it. The process is like harvesting a carrot. (Read Weeds That Look Like Small Trees)
If you do it properly, you can get rid of the thick taproot of the plant. This technique works best in light soil.
You might have difficulty getting rid of the roots if you’ve got clay soil since it compacts easily.
Dig Up the Ground when Removing Bigger Pokeweed Plants
For bigger plants, removing pokeweed by base will not work. Because of this, you’ve got to do manual labor.
First, you have to dig deeply into the soil to get rid of the taproot. When digging, make sure you dig a circle around the plant’s base.
The hole needs to be 12-inch in depth and diameter. You can make the job a lot simpler if you use a spade when digging around the plant.
Loosen Up the Plant Using Your Garden Tools
Pokeweeds do not want to come out of the soil. This is particularly true if they are already mature. You should not expect to get rid of pokeweed without some muscle work.
One of the ideal techniques to eliminate the plant is to utilize the spade to pry it loose. It would help if you did this after digging the hole.
Keep in mind that you need to remove the whole root from the ground. Else, it will simply grow back.
Use a Rototiller to Loosen the Soil
After you’ve removed all the pokeweed plants manually, you have to remove all the pieces of loose root as well.
You don’t want plants to grow back. It will be a waste of effort and time if it happens. You can use a rototiller to churn up the soil to at least 12-inch in depth.
Next, utilize a rake to go through the soil and remove the pieces of roots.
Kill the Pokeweed by Placing Them Under the Sun
Once you get rid of the pokeweed, you should not simply throw it away. If you do that, the plant will grow back in that spot.
That is why you have to kill the plant first completely.
Put the pokeweed plants on a spot that is far from the soil. You can place it on a table or a tarp. Then, place them under the sun to dry out and die.
Once the plant is thoroughly dead and dry, place them inside a waste bin or a compost bin. You can also use a garbage bag. It would help if you did not place them inside a compost bin without drying them first.
It’s Crucial to Remove Them Frequently
Now that you know how to get rid of pokeweed, you’ll constantly have to do this process. You need to pay attention to the affected area. Make this a part of your gardening routine.
Pull them as soon as possible if you notice new plants or shoots rising from the ground. Seeds have a long viability span. There is an excellent possibility that they will grow back again.
Can You Use Vinegar to Kill Pokeweed?
Vinegar is acidic. Thus, it can burn the roots of the plant. You might be able to use vinegar to get rid of pokeweed. This is particularly true if the plant’s root is still not strong enough.
All you’ve got to do is combine 50% water and 50% vinegar and spray it on the plant.
Keep in mind that this solution isn’t as effective compared to using a weed killer or a glyphosate herbicide. Aside from that, it might not work on mature plants.
Can You Eat the Berries?
Native Americans consume the pokeweed plant by boiling the root to make it the least toxic. In several regions of Asia, people add pokeweed berries into vinegar and wine to give it some color. On the other hand, South Americans add berries into pies.
However, it can be extremely poisonous to eat berries without correct preparations. Thus, it’s best to ignore the berries and not risk your health.
Can You Burn Pokeweed?
A lot of people burn pokeweed plants when it is dry. However, if it is still fresh, this method can be very poisonous and dangerous. Thus, professionals don’t recommend burning to kill pokeweed.
The best way is to dry it out under the sun. Once it has completely dried, you can place it inside a garbage bag and throw it away in a safe area.
Pokeweed might appear appealing and beautiful. However, you cannot consider it safe for you, your kids, or your pets. They’re poisonous.
If you’re a gardener, you’ve got to take responsibility for all the plants that are growing in your garden. If you notice pokeweed, it’s best to remove it right away. (Read Using Weed Killer That Won’t Kill Plants)
Now that you know how to get rid of pokeweed, you can prevent humans and animals from getting harmed.