Thistles are also rarely welcome in beds and borders, unless they have been planted. Thistles are mostly seen as a nuisance and must give way. To do that, in turn, is not that easy. Thistles can be stubborn. As long as only the smallest particles of the plant, mostly in the form of the roots, remain in the soil, the thistle can sprout from it again and again.

Which thistles prefer to grow wild in our gardens?

  • Field thistle – actually 50 to 150 cm high, but likes to stay very short on lawns so that it cannot be mowed. To be recognized by the musky scent of the flowers. This thistle has a creeping rhizome and spreads vegetatively, so it can be very annoying. It thrives mainly in fields, rubble sites and on roadsides and roadsides and has thorny, pointed bracts that surround the flower head. The leaves are thorny, elongated to lanceolate and strongly serrated to lobed.
  • Various-leaved thistle – 50 to 150 cm high and thrives mainly on moist and lime-poor soils. This thistle can be recognized by its lanceolate leaves, which do not run down the stem and are almost snow-white felted on the underside. The thistle is often found on poor pastures and meadows. The flowers are red-violet, stand individually or in groups of up to three, the stems have no spines
  • Donkey thistle – 50 to 300 cm high, a real giant. Has solitary flower heads with green bracts, which have thorny, yellow, partly bent back tips. The stems are white, woolly hairy and have broad, thorny wings, the leaves are unevenly cupped, prickly, lobed. The whole plant appears silvery. The flowers look reddish-purple.
  • Rough goose thistle – flowers yellow and reach heights of 30 to 100 cm. Recognizable by their few side shoots. The leaves are prickly, but not as hard as other thistles. The lower leaves are puckered at the edge.
  • Common goose thistle – also flowers yellow and becomes 30 to 100 cm high. Is very similar to the rough goose thistle.

Diesels must be removed before the seeds ripen so that they cannot reproduce. In addition, it is important to know that thistles can sprout again after a fight, but they are weakened with each attempt to eliminate them and at some point no longer have any strength. That’s how long you have to hold out. Of course, neither flowers nor root parts belong on the compost, otherwise the prickly companions will soon spread throughout the garden.

Thistles are important to some species of insects and butterflies. You cannot survive without the plants as they specialize in thistles. So maybe one or two copies should be left in a quiet corner. Thistles are particularly suitable for near-natural gardens. They just can’t spread like that, which is why you have to cut off the flowers as soon as they have finished blooming. The seeds are formed very quickly.

What thistles like

If you know what thistles like, you can possibly do something to make them feel good in the garden. That way, they probably won’t spread that much. There are no guarantees, of course, but it’s worth a try.

  • Thistles like nutritious clay soils. The roots find a good hold there and also penetrate deeper depths. They are then very difficult to remove mechanically.
  • Soils that are particularly rich in nitrogen are ideal.
  •  Thistles like the sun. If you have plants around you that grow larger and shade the thistles, they are weakened. At best, they don’t develop any further.

Remove thistles from the ground

There are several ways to fight thistles. It is usually difficult, it takes time and there can be major setbacks. There is no easy solution that will help 100 percent the first time. Those who do not allow themselves to be discouraged and keep fighting will win in the end.

Mechanical approach

Mechanical extraction of the thistle and its roots is the most environmentally friendly way of fighting. You have to be careful, however, that no part of it remains in the ground, because the plants will sprout again from this. Often this cannot be avoided entirely. The result is that you have to go back to work soon and remove the next thistle.
It is important that you wear gloves when working, otherwise you can injure yourself on the pricking and stinging plants.

  • The most effective way of pulling out the thistle and root is when the soil is wet. So you do it after rain.
  • When using the spade, care should be taken to leave enough space between it and the root so that the taproot is not severed. A new plant is guaranteed to grow from it.
  • It is better to use a thistle cutter that is available in stores. This is a long knife, curved in a semicircular shape, which is stuck into the earth immediately next to the thistle root. It removes the taproot quite reliably, as long as it is not significantly longer than the engraver itself. The device can also be used against dandelions.
  • It is important that you get to grips with the plants over and over again. As soon as the first green appears somewhere again and is identified as a thistle, everything must be removed. You can only get the problem under control if you consistently stay on the ball for a long time. Incidentally, young thistles are the easiest to cut out.
  • Start cutting out in spring as soon as the first recognizable parts of the plant appear.

Mow thistles

Another method I’ve found is to cut the thistle down. This has to be done before it rains if possible, or has to be watered after mowing. According to a lady in a forum who owns a farm, that helps quite a bit. Water in the hollow thistle stems causes the plant or the roots to rot and that flattens them. Here, too, it is important to always stay on the ball, but the lawn is mowed regularly. If the thistles are too low to mow, just fertilize them, then they shoot up and can be mowed. Unfortunately, this method only helps with lawns. In addition, so that the control is even more effective, the lawn should then be treated with fertilizer that contains weed killers.

Chemical-based agents

Removing thistles by hand is exhausting, time-consuming and takes time. For many gardening enthusiasts, this is too much of a good thing. So they prefer to use chemistry. This is often effective, but it also has a few disadvantages.

As a rule, the funds are added to the irrigation water. You pour it over the plant. The active ingredients are absorbed through the leaves and distributed throughout the plant, including the roots, which is important. You mustn’t try to uproot the plant too early, even if everything is already withered on top. It takes time for the active ingredients to reach the bottom of the taproot. If you pull too early, parts of the root will survive again.

  • Chemical agents do not distinguish between friend and foe. Everything vegetable that is sprayed dies, including plants that were not intended for it. This usually creates brown circles in the lawn, as the grass around it also dies and usually faster than the thistle.
  • So it makes sense to cover the plants all around.
  • Alternatively, special lawn weed killers can be used in the lawn. You can differentiate between grass and weeds.
  • Celaflor lawn weed-free Weedex – for spraying or watering, combats more than 40 weeds root-deep, active ingredients are absorbed through the leaves, very well tolerated by lawns, not dangerous to bees, unfortunately expensive – 400 ml about 15 to 20 €, but you use 10 ml in 10 l water for 10 square meters, so it is productive. (Syringes – 1ml in 500 ml of water for 1 square meter). Important. Children and pets should not step on the lawn for a few days after treatment. So for me the product is out of the question, otherwise there were almost consistently good reviews.
  • Compo lawn fertilizer with weed killer – similar product for a higher price, but with poorer reviews. 3 kg for 100 m² 25 €

Thistles can be a nuisance in the garden, especially in the lawn. Cutting out helps, but only if you catch the entire root or if you consistently stay on the ball and repeatedly intervene against the plants, so that at some point they are so weakened that they give up. Thistles on the lawn should be easy to get under control with the help of the lawn mower. However, you have to mow around two to three times a week, always only a little, but consistently. Then watering helps, as water in the hollow stems causes the plants to rot. It is also beneficial to use a lawn fertilizer against weeds. This is an effective method, albeit a little laborious, but what doesn’t you do to create a beautiful lawn? In the bed or in the rest of the garden, pricking out and weed sprays help, but these should be used with caution.

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