How to eradicate hairy bittercress

Dealing with weeds is one of the most time-consuming and frustrating tasks, especially when dealing with stubborn weeds whose infestation has spread.

Several types of weeds can affect your lawn, garden, yard, landscape, or other areas of your property. One of the worst of these weeds is hairy bittercress, which is known for being aggressive when it comes to spreading.

Like every other weed, control starts with identifying what you are dealing with. You can then choose the correct techniques for eradicating these unwanted plants.

Below is a detailed guide on how to stop hairy bittercress, from how to identify the plant to various control mechanisms you can use.

What is hairy bittercress?

Hairy bittercress
Image by: Flickr/Stanze

Hairy bittercress is an annual weed common around lawns, beds, borders, gravel paths, waste, uncultivated lands, etc.

It is a fast-growing plant that can appear several times a year.

The plant is known for producing several seeds, which explode from the seedpods, scattering them for long distances.

On top of that, these seeds can remain dormant in the soil for several years before sprouting.

How to identify hairy bittercress?

Hairy bittercress is a plant characterized by small, deep green, rounded leaves forming a rosette pattern. It is also an upright but short-growing plant, which reaches a few centimeters off the ground.

However, the flower stems grow slightly higher, reaching up to 12 inches. Tiny white flowers bloom on these flower stalks, which later develop into seedpods that open up explosively, scattering the seeds.

When is the best time to remove hairy bittercress?

Hairy bittercress can be very hard to eradicate, especially after the plant produces seeds.

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Therefore, the best time to get rid of the plant is when it is young, before the flower buds develop into seed pods.

The reason for this, as stated above, is that the plant produces many seeds, which can remain dormant for a very long time. Therefore, you might be dealing with this weed for a long time.

Note: Due to dormant seeds in the soil, hair bittercress can germinate several times a year.

Therefore, you must continuously monitor your lawn, garden, yard, or other infested areas and remove the plants when they sprout.

How to remove hairy bittercress?

There are several techniques you can use to control hairy bittercress weed.

We’ve analyzed them in detail below:

1. Pulling hairy bittercress from the ground

a person pulling weeds out by hand

Mechanical weeding is one of the techniques you can use to get rid of hairy bittercress. It involves techniques such as pulling by hand or using weed digging tools that reach into the ground to grab and pull out its long deep taproot.

Alternatively, you can hoe, till, or mow the area where the weed is growing – provided hairy bittercress is in the early stages of growth and has not flowered.

Mechanical weeding is a great technique to use with hairy bittercress when you are dealing with a small infestation, especially on places like your lawn.

On top of that, some people might find techniques such as hand weeding super fun and satisfying, especially given how easy it is to yank the entire plant out of the ground.

Note: When hand weeding, you might want to water the ground first to loosen up the soil for easy removal.

2. Killing hairy bittercress using homemade herbicides

Homemade weed killers are the answer if you look for natural ways to kill hairy bittercress. One of the best weed killers you can use is the solution made from salt, vinegar (white), and liquid dish soap.

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White vinegar contains acetic acid that burns and dries out the plant, while salt dehydrates it, causing it to wither and die.

On the other hand, dish soap is a surfactant, which reduces the surface tension of the leaves, allowing the solution to penetrate.

One thing to note, though, with this (and other) weed killer is that it is not selective and will kill everything.

Therefore, you need to spot-treat hairy bittercress, leaving other vegetation untouched. A hand sprayer will thus come in handy when spraying this weed-killer solution.

Another factor to consider is the weather during the time of application. For the best results, you should spray this weed killer when there is no rain to avoid washing off before it is absorbed.

Also, you should avoid spraying when it is windy, as this can spread the weed killer to other beneficial vegetation, killing them.

Hairy bittercress
Image by: Flickr/David Pashley

3. Using chemical herbicides

Chemical control of hairy bittercress is another effective way of removing the weed from your property.

You can use two chemical control techniques – spraying pre-emergence herbicides or spraying post-emergence herbicides.

Pre-emergent herbicides target the weeds’ seeds in the ground before or as they start to sprout.

On the other hand, post-emergent herbicides target the plant, killing it after it has emerged from the ground. You can use either of these techniques individually or combine them for increased effectiveness.

There are several herbicides you can consider when it comes to pre-emergence application. They are those that contain:

  • Dithiopyr
  • Prodiamine
  • Isoxaben
  • Sulfentrazone
  • Dimethenamid.

For the best results, you should apply these from summer to early fall, just before the hairy bittercress plant emerges.

Note: Some of these herbicides might not be selective, and can prevent the germination of other vegetation, for example, turf grass.

Does Roundup kill hairy bittercress?

Yes, Roundup is an effective post-emergence herbicide you can use to get rid of hairy bittercress. Others include dicamba, 2,4-D, quinclorac, triclopyr, fluroxypyr, MCCP, and others.

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Again, you should note that some post-emergence herbicides are not selective and will kill everything they come into contact with.

A good example is Roundup formulas, which contain glyphosate as the active compound. Therefore, the best way to proceed is to spot-treat hairy bittercress.

Alternatively, you can use a selective herbicide, which will only target the weed, leaving other vegetation unharmed.

A good example is Roundup for lawns, a selective weed killer that does not harm the turf grass. You should make sure the weed killer you use for lawns is pet friendly too.

Will hairy bittercress go dormant?

Yes, hairy bittercress is an annual winter plant. It will germinate in the cool and cold temperatures of late summer and fall and continue growing until the temperatures become freezing.

The frost-hardy plant will then be dormant throughout the winter before resuming growth when the temperatures warm up.

Conclusion

Hairy bittercress is an annoying weed that is very aggressive in spreading—letting the plant grow uncontrolled leads to the release of seeds, which can remain dormant in the soil for a long time.

As a result, you might find yourself dealing with the infestation for several years. Fortunately, with the information above, you can maintain effective control over hairy bittercress.

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