How to kill cactus roots

Written by kimberly johnson
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How to kill cactus roots
Eradicating a cactus requires killing its roots. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Cacti are classified as a succulents because they are comprised mostly of water, even though they grow in dry, hot regions. While some people grow cactus gardens intentionally, in many areas cacti grow in the wild and become invasive. Part of the problem is that the root system survives even when the above-ground portion of the plant is destroyed. Permanent removal of a cactus requires an application of chemicals that seep down and kill the root system.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Backpack sprayer or hand-held sprayer
  • Herbicide containing picloram
  • Non-ionic surfactant or liquid dish soap
  • Liquid herbicide dye
  • Work gloves

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  1. 1

    Fill a backpack sprayer or a hand-held garden sprayer with an herbicide that contains the main ingredient picloram. Mix the herbicide with cold water to create a 1 per cent solution. For a 3-gallon sprayer, add 3 gallons water and 113gr. of herbicide.

  2. 2

    Add 28.4gr. of a non-ionic surfactant to the tank, which is available in the weed control aisle of many hardware stores. If desired, liquid dish soap can be substituted for the surfactant. Surfactants make the herbicide stick to the cactus better.

  3. 3

    Add 29.6 to 59.1ml. of a liquid herbicide dye to the tank, which makes it easier to determine when the cactus plant is completely saturated.

  4. 4

    Close the sprayer and rock it back and forth gently. Do not shake it, as this will cause bubbles to form.

  5. 5

    Spray all surfaces of the above-ground portion of the cactus plant until they are completely covered in dye, but not so that it drips or runs down the plant.

  6. 6

    Wait the amount of time that the herbicide bottle indicates and examine the cactus to see if it is dead and brown. If the cactus is brown, cut off the top portion with a knife. Wearing work gloves, dispose of the plant in the trash.

Tips and warnings

  • Observe the area for the next year, as the cactus may have produced seeds that could sprout.
  • Cactus can be killed any time of the year that the temperature is more tham 15.6 degrees Celsius.

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