Gardeners' World: Monty details how to weed a wildflower patch
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Ragwort is a thuggish perennial weed, which means it is big and invasive, rooting itself firmly into your garden landscape. These weeds produce large perennial roots which store food reserves to keep them going from year to year. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide of five top tips to help you eradicate ragwort.
Ragwort is a plant which provides a great food source for a wide range of insects.
It is not usually a massive issue for gardens, but it has poisonous qualities which can make it a serious weed for paddocks and gardens backing onto fields grazed by horses and cattle.
The weed is found across the British Isles in grassland, verges, wasteland and neglected and over-grazed pastures.
The flowers are attractive to a wide range of insects including butterflies and moths.
Ragworts are poisonous weeds and their seeds are spread by the wind.
One single plant is capable of producing up to 60,000 seeds.
This is why it can quickly become a major weed in wastelands and other uncultivated grounds.
When grown, ragwort is a tall erect plant reaching three feet which can bear flat-topped clusters of yellow daisy-like flowers from July to October.
The plant has finely divided leaves with a basal rosette of deeply cut, toothed leaves.
How to get rid of ragwort
Ragwort only tends to be a problem weed when it grows near animal grazing areas.
Cattle and horses are particularly susceptible to poisoning.
Cutting, wilting and the treatment with herbicides make ragwort less unpalatable to livestock and poisoning mainly arises from eating contaminated hay.
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The best non-chemical method of removing these weeds is by digging them out.
You should cut the plant at the early flower stage, reducing seed production.
This can stimulate the growth of side shoots, resulting in more vigorous growth in the following year.
Cut plants are a serious risk to grazing animals and may still set seed.
Ragworts should be removed and burnt as the plant can cultivate in waste disposal areas.
Pulling the weeds out is practical where weed numbers are low, but the benefit is only temporary.
Roots remaining in the soil will give rise to new plants.
You can also use weedkillers to tackle the weeds.
Glyphosate can be used to clear small infestations, but apply carefully as it will kill any green plants it comes into contact with.
In more heavily infested areas, weedkillers can prove effective.
To control mature plants in pastures apply weedkillers in late April or May.
Grazing is not safe for at least four to six weeks after spraying as treated plants remain poisonous.
You should make sure to allow several times for the weeds to decay.
Tips to remember when getting rid of ragwort
- Systematic weedkillers work best when weeds are actively growing, which is from April to September.
- The more leaves a weed has, the larger surface area there is to spray.
- Avoid spraying in the sunshine because often the weedkiller simply evaporates.
- The effectiveness of weedkillers is reduced if it rains within six hours of application.
- Ragwort thrives on poorly managed land and therefore caring for your land is important to avoid this issue.
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