Digging out a creeping thistle weed

Creeping thistle

Tackle creeping thistle, with the help of tips from our expert guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Time to act
Time to act

Do not Time to act in January

Do not Time to act in February

Do not Time to act in March

Do not Time to act in April

Do not Time to act in May

Do Time to act in June

Do Time to act in July

Do Time to act in August

Do Time to act in September

Do Time to act in October

Do Time to act in November

Do not Time to act in December

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.



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


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.



Use a total weedkiller 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.