London (change)
Today 15°C / 12°C
Tomorrow 18°C / 12°C

Creeping thistle

Symptoms

Creeping thistle is a rampant weed that's spread via wind-blown seeds, as well as roots that can grow 6-12m per year. If left unchecked, it can rapidly dominate areas of your garden.
Find it on: all over the garden
Time to act: summer to autumn

Overview

Creeping thistle, Cirsium arvense, is a pernicious weed that will quickly take over your garden unless kept in check. Winter is the only time of year that offers a reprieve, but for the rest of the year the best way to tackle it is to dig it out as soon as it appears. It's armed with extremely sharp stems from tip to ground, so don't tackle it without a sturdy pair of gloves.
Solution
Creeping thistle is a rampant weed that's spread via wind-blown seeds, as well as roots that can grow 6-12m per year. If left unchecked, it can rapidly dominate areas of your garden.
Organic
The best way to deal with thistles is to get a fork under the plant and gently tease out as many of its spreading white roots as possible. Although a new plant will generate from any pieces of root left behind, these will become weaker and easier to remove each time you dig them out.
Chemical
Use a total weedkiller, such as glyphosate, on this weed, as it'll kill the plant without leaving a residue in the soil. Avoid spraying on a windy day and near other desirable plants.



Discuss this problem

Talkback: Creeping thistle
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

MalcolmJ 17/03/2012 at 12:10

We had a natural wildflower patch professional sown and had lots of these thistles. Very pretty but now had thistles growing in the middle of the lawn !!! I'm glad the above advise confirms I'm doing the right thing by both digging out and using glyphosate but digging out is telling on my back as there can be twenty little blighters a day

Allturf 19/03/2013 at 15:23

Creeping thistle is my favourite, always reminds me of my mums garden..

oscarbgrace 17/08/2013 at 07:45

Ones weed is another's wildflower!

Welshonion 17/08/2013 at 09:46

You will never beat creeping thistle by digging out, unless you are going down very, very deep!  Every bit of root left behind will re-grow.

Jeremy James 14/09/2014 at 16:24

The way I control creeping thistle is to fire it when in seed. Only the seeds burn and they do so in a flash. There's hardly any smoke, the thistle itself does not burn because it's wet and if done carefully, there's little likelihood of it spreading to a lower story. You need to be sensible about it and take sensible precautions. In other words don't go and fire a vast swatch beside a barn or something on a warm, breezy September's day.
This controls seed spread as no chemical will ever achieve.Done annually, and you weaken the plant. They'll disappear.