Capeweed is an invasive weed that is difficult to control. If you encounter capeweed on your property, you are likely wondering how to get rid of it. Once it gets established, it can be difficult to eradicate.
However, there are ways to get rid of capeweed; these include using herbicides, creating your own kitchen solutions or simply by hand.
- What is Capeweed?
- How To Get Rid Of Capeweed: 3 Methods
- Preventing Capeweed Infestation – 4 Tips
- In Summary
What is Capeweed?
Capeweed is a plant in the daisy family. This is why they look so similar to daisies. It is low-growing and semi-upright. Instead of growing straight up, it grows at an angle, forming a rosette. This growth will continue until the plant flowers. The flowers themselves typically grow vertically.
Capeweed is an annual, but it is prolific. One capeweed can produce 4,000 seeds. To make matters worse, capeweed is not picky about growing conditions.
It has been found in coastal areas, yards, and even football fields. It’s native to Africa, but it thrives in California, Australia, and Tasmania.
It is a fall-germinating plant. Seedlings typically appear in February through late April. They are similar to storksbill, crowsfoot, bittercress, and mustards. They can be distinguished by the white hairs on the underside of their leaves.
Dangers of Capeweed
If you have animals, capeweed poses more than an aesthetic problem. The plant itself isn’t toxic. However, it does have a high nitrogen content.
This can taint the milk produced by dairy cows. It can also be toxic to animals in high amounts. There’s a higher risk after a drought. The nitrogen content of the soil is at its highest after a long drought.
The first week of rain causes the capeweed to thrive, and brings in a high amount of nitrogen from the soil.
How To Get Rid Of Capeweed: 3 Methods
Here are three different methods you can use to get rid of capeweed.
One way to get rid of capeweed is to use a herbicide. There are two basic types of herbicides. Selective herbicides can kill capeweed, but won’t affect other plants.
Nonselective herbicides are designed to be effective against a wide variety of plants. Some of these may be used in pastures or lawns, but shouldn’t be used in gardens.
One nonselective herbicide that can be used for capeweed is Roundup. There are two formulations of Roundup that can be used for capeweed.
One is Roundup Biactive. You’ll need to use more of this herbicide on capeweed taller than 6 inches. It should kill capeweed within 3-7 days.
Roundup PowerMax is also effective against capeweed. It should kill the weed within 3-7 days. Just like Biactive, you should apply more to plants higher than 6 inches.
There are two selective herbicides that are effective against capeweed. These are MCPA and DICAMBA.
MCPA was developed in the 1930s. It is effective against capeweed and broadleaf plants. Clover can tolerate moderate application, and grass shouldn’t be affected.
MCPA acts by triggering abnormal growth in plants, which eventually results in their death.
DICAMBA also targets broadleaf weeds and is effective for capeweed. Its use came under scrutiny in 2016, when it was discovered it can travel beyond treated areas. It can travel into neighboring fields and cause damage to them.
A new formulation was created by Monsanto. This version doesn’t affect other areas. However, there is some concern about resistance to herbicides, including DICAMBA, developing in plants.
If you are concerned about using chemical herbicides, there’s another option for eradicating capeweed. It’s called Bioweed. It is made from pine oil, and is chemical-free.
Bioweed acts by removing the waxy protective coating of the plant, which dehydrates it. Bioweed users state that it can kill weeds in a matter of hours or days.
Since Bioweed is different from other herbicides, there are some special instructions for use. These include completely covering the plant with Bioweed. Since it doesn’t transfer from one plant cell to another as traditional herbicides do, proper application is essential for getting rid of capeweed.
2. Kitchen Capeweed Killers
There are a few things lurking in your kitchen that can kill capeweed. However, these methods can also damage or kill desirable plants that grow alongside capeweed.
One of the simplest ways to kill capeweed is with boiling water. This isn’t damaging to nearby plants, as long as you avoid pouring the water on them.
The best way to do this is with a tea kettle. Heat up the water in the kettle, or heat it up on a pot, and then transfer it to the kettle. Then, pour the boiling water directly onto the capeweed plants.
Obviously, this isn’t practical if you have a serious capeweed infestation over a large area. However, it’s completely natural and causes no harm to surrounding plants or soil. It’s also surprisingly effective.
Salt and Vinegar
Salt and vinegar aren’t just for chips. It’s also an extremely effective herbicide. However, there are a few drawbacks. Vinegar itself can be used in any area. Just don’t apply it directly to plants you don’t want to kill.
Salt makes the vinegar more effective. Vinegar will kill the surface plant but doesn’t kill the roots. Salt causes the roots to die as well, completely killing the plant.
However, it can also stay on your soil. If too much salt gets into the soil, you won’t have a weed problem, because nothing will grow in the area.
This is desirable in some areas, like your driveway. However, it’s not desirable for a pasture, garden, or lawn.
When using salt and vinegar, mix one cup of salt with one gallon of white vinegar. Add a tablespoon of dish soap. Mix into a spray bottle, and apply generously to the leaves of the capeweed. Do not spray it directly onto the soil.
To avoid damaging your soil, don’t add more salt to the solution than is called for. Don’t spray the mixture directly onto the soil. Don’t reapply frequently in the same area.
These precautions should prevent the salt from killing off desirable plants in the area.
3. Hand Removal
It’s the most annoying version of weed control, but it can be effective. Just remove them by hand. This is a great option if you catch the problem before capeweed has taken over.
If you can get them out before they flower, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the line. Watering the soil the day before or loosening the soil with a hoe or fork will make it easier to remove the capeweed.
Be sure to remove the root system along with the plant. If you leave the root system intact, the plant will regrow.
Preventing Capeweed Infestation – 4 Tips
The best way to deal with a capeweed infestation is to avoid it. This can be done by avoiding a few common pitfalls that lead to a capeweed infestation.
1. Bare Ground
Bare ground is inviting to capeweed. They will quickly establish themselves in these areas. The healthier and greener your land is, the less likely it will be infested with capeweed.
If you own a pasture, you should be particularly vigilant in the late summer and autumn. This is when capeweed typically begins its growth cycle.
2. Early Control
Once capeweed flowers and releases seeds, you’ll have a tough battle on your hands. Monitoring your land and identifying capeweed early is essential for easy control.
At this stage, if there are only a few capeweed plants, capeweed can be removed by hand, or boiling water can be used.
3. Avoid Contamination
Capeweed seeds are spread easily by the wind and animals. However, you can also inadvertently spread them. They can hitch a ride on vehicles, shoes, and clothing.
If you are working in an area with capeweed, take precautions to ensure you don’t bring the seeds to other areas. Wash down vehicles, be sure the interior is free of seeds and debris and change clothing before entering an area not affected by capeweed.
4. Team Effort
If the capeweed is affecting neighboring properties, you’ll need to work together to rid yourself of the menace. If those around you don’t eradicate capeweed, it will quickly return to your area as well.
Capeweed has a deservedly bad rap, despite its pretty appearance. It can be toxic to animals in high amounts due to the high levels of nitrogen. It is invasive and prolific, which makes it difficult to control once it’s established.
There are several ways to get rid of capeweed. Herbicides are one option. These include selective and non-selective herbicides. For those who want to avoid chemicals, Bioweed is an organic herbicide.
Other methods of capeweed control and removal include pulling them by hand, applying vinegar and salt, and boiling water.
Prevention should be a part of any capeweed management strategy. A properly maintained area is less likely to develop capeweed. If capeweed is already established, avoiding bare patches can help reduce the spread of the plant.
Capeweed can be tough to battle, but you can rid yourself of it with hard work and patience.