Cactus and succulents Gardening Weeds

How to Weed a Cactus

20170318A.jpgCacti are ever so popular these days, not only as houseplants, but outdoors as well, at least where the hardier ones are concerned. One of their features are their abundant and attractive spines, often colorful and always wickedly prickly. They help protect the plants from harmful animals… but from also helpful gardeners, as when weeds work their way in and among your cactus plants, just how are you supposed to get them out?

Worse, weeds seem to adore cactus. Even among houseplants, where weeds are rarely a problem, some always manage to find cactus plants and set up shop. The annoying common yellow woodsorrel (Oxalis stricta), for example, is found in most indoor cactus collections.

So how do you get to the weeds without stabbing yourself on the spines?

Pliers to the Rescue

Try raiding your toolbox for a pair of long-nose pliers: they’re the ideal weeders for tight spaces. Just work the pointy end in among the spines until you can grasp the weed by its base and slowly pull it free. Most of the time, it will come away roots and all, reducing the chances of it resprouting. And if it does resprout, don’t wait. If you pull out any new growth while it is young, it’s less likely to grow back!

Do wear leather gloves too, though, just in case.

Roses Too

The same tool comes in handy when weeding roses in the garden… but in that case, long-sleeve spine-proof garden gloves are even more important.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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