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How Can I Remove Jimsonweed Organically?

Question:

We have quite a bit of Jimsonweed in a garden within a public park that our organization maintains.  Using RoundUp is out of the question.  Are there any ways to remove it organically?

Answer:

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) is an introduced weed, often classified as a noxious weed or an invasive plant, depending on the state.  It is a prolific annual that can produce as many as 30,000 seeds per plant. For more details on the plant, take a look at this information.

Organic removal of Jimsonweed is not easy, but you can succeed, keeping these principles in mind:

  • There is no “quick fix.” Be patient, as elimination of Jimsonweed will take time.
  • Since Jimsonweed is an annual, there will likely be a robust seed bank in the soil (unless this is a newly introduced plant that has not yet gone to seed).
  • Pulling plants will create soil disturbance – ideal for further seed germination. You could risk pulling it when there is only a small infestation.
  • Don’t let any existing plants go to seed – they can be weed-wacked or cut back before they come into flower, or soon thereafter (always use gloves when handling this plant). 
  • Solarizing an area can be an effective way to control the plant – but this can also take a considerable amount of time – possibly years.
  • It’s better to get the weed under control before planting out an area. 
  • You can pull the plants and immediately plant a “cover crop for a season to help suppress germination of more Jimsonweed seeds. The cover crop would be used as a temporary placeholder. Here is some helpful info on cover crops from Mother Earth Living
  • Don’t let a “treated” area go fallow – in lieu of a temporary cover crop, replant a cleared area thickly with competitive native plants that have an aggressive growth habit.  Make sure to plant diversely with plants that “play well together.” Avoid monocultures, even native ones.
  • Since Jimsonweed is allelopathic, it is best to replace it with live native plants, not seeds. Jimsonweed plants may suppress the germination of other seeds.

Best of luck!

from Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!

Photo: Prickly Jimsonweed pod loaded with seeds
Photo credit: Andreas Rockstein