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How Can I Kill a Rose Bush?

Updated February 21, 2017

"We can complain," Abraham Lincoln famously said, "because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

While Honest Abe's sentiment is a nice one, a rose bush isn't always something to rejoice about. Rose bushes can be quite pesky; once they start growing somewhere you don't want them, they are very difficult to remove. But with the right set of tools and tricks, you can rejoice in vanquishing an annoying thorn bush from your garden.

The Easy Way Won't Work

Rose bushes are notoriously hardy. Simply whacking a rose bush won't do the trick. Even if you cut it all the way to the ground, its root system is tenacious, and it will start sending up shoots again before you know it. Gardeners tell stories of uprooting rose bushes and throwing them in the trash pile, only to find them taking root in the trash and growing again.

You're going to have to get a little more serious if you want to kill a rose bush.

Natural Methods

One easy, completely natural way of killing a rose bush is boiling water. Pour a large pot of boiling-hot water over the bush. This is a sure-fire method of killing the plant, although be warned that boiling water is indiscriminate and will kill all the plants in the area.

Another simple, natural technique involves vinegar and salt. The acetic acid in either white or cider vinegar will kill the leaves on the plant, depriving it of energy; dropping a pinch of table salt in the soil at the base of the plant will deprive the plant of nutrients from the soil and kill it.

Household Products and Weed Killers

Household bleach is an effective killer of undesirable plants. Place some bleach in a spray bottle, and spray it on the rose bush. If you get bleach on a nearby plant that you want to keep, quickly wash it off the plant. Rubbing alcohol is another household product that will do the trick. It gets its effectiveness from its ability to suck out water and make it evaporate quickly. Applying this to a rose bush will suck the water out of the plant, causing it to shrivel and die.

If you still have trouble, try Round-Up or a similar weed-killing product and apply it to the rose bush.

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About the Author

William Guzzardi is a recent graduate of Brown University living in Chicago. His writing has appeared in numerous daily and weekly publications. He is also the poetry editor of the new online literary magazine Wag's Revue, and he works part-time as a professional copy and line editor.