How To Kill Cactus: Knowing The Best Way

Cactus might sound to be a cool-looking and interesting plant. However, they’re not that great to have, especially if they grow out of nowhere in your garden or lawn.

Aside from the fact that they’re sharp and can hurt you, they can also destroy the view of your garden, as well as suck the life out of the other plants surrounding it.

Because of this, it makes perfect sense for you to get rid of them. In this article, we’re going to show you how to kill cactus the right way.

What you need to prepare

1. Sprayer

The first thing you need to prepare is a sprayer. It might either be a bottle sprayer, a hose sprayer, or any garden sprayer.

Make sure that it is big enough for the amount of herbicide solution that you’re going to put in so you don’t need to keep on refilling later on. It should also be safe and secure and should not be dripping.

2. Herbicide with picloram

how to kill cactus plant

This is what you’re going to need to spray on the cactus to kill them off.

In choosing one, make sure that it is from a reputable maker. It should also have the picloram element because this is the one which adds intensity to the chemical, making it more effective in killing the cactus.

If you’re going to apply it later on, make sure that this will not spread to other plants, as it can also kill them off.

3. Shovel, axe, and chainsaw

You’re going to need a shovel and an axe to wreak havoc on the cactus. Use these tools to hit and damage the cactus.

Slice off a part of the cactus and hit it with these tools, or you might also want to pierce right straight into it.

The shovel and axe should not be too big or too small. It should be the right size so you can easily use it. Use the chainsaw to cut the cactus when it’s already dead.

4. Gardening gloves and thick clothing

Prepare a thick pair of gardening gloves. You should also wear proper clothing that can protect you from getting pricked by the cactus’ thorns. The gloves should be thick enough to stop any thorns from touching your skin.

Your clothes should also be thick so the sharp thorns can’t easily pierce through the fabric.

Step-by-step process

#1. Prepare the herbicide

When you’re already set to go, the next thing you need to do is to prepare the herbicide. Make sure that it’s mixed properly. It should contain picloram, as this is a very effective component in killing almost all kinds of cacti.

When you’re done mixing it all up, gently pour it into a garden sprayer. It may be a simple bottle sprayer or a hose sprayer if you’re going to take on many cacti.

Each herbicide has different water concentrations, so you might want to check out its instructions and details first.

Most herbicides need a 1% water concentration to ensure their effectiveness.

#2. Add dishwashing detergent and dye

how to kill cactus in your yard

Though the previous step is most likely to be already ready to be sprayed onto the cactus, it would still be better if you add additional dishwashing detergent to it. If you want to, you can. Just add around 0.25% of it to make the herbicide solution more effective.

You might also want to add an extra 0.25 to 0.50% of dye to the solution so that you’ll have a visual reference if the plant is already sprayed on by the herbicide.

#3. Wreak havoc

This might be the most fun part for people who are tired of endlessly trying to get rid of the cactus in their backyard. This is usually taken for granted by most people, even though it’s a very effective solution to literally “killing” the cactus.

In wreaking havoc on the cactus, you can use an axe, a shovel, or any piece of wood or metal that can damage the cactus’ body.

Hit the plant randomly, slice through it, and pierce it. It’s also like a therapeutic process for you, especially if the cactus caused a lot of trouble to you.

This way, you’re also opening up the inside body of the cactus to the herbicide solution you’ll be spraying later on.

#4. Spray it on the cactus

This is the time when you can finally spray the solution on the cactus you want to kill. Spray it on all of the sides of the body, including its pads and stems. You can spray it any season of the year or at any time of the day. The more herbicide solution you spray on it, the better it is.

What you want to do here is to dampen and make the cactus wet regularly. Just be sure that it’s not dripping wet because the herbicide can also damage the nutrition of the soil.

#5. Cut it off and remove the roots

If the cactus has already dried up and discoloration starts to appear, making it look dead, then it’s most likely to be dead, really. The amount of time they can die off depends on the situation, such as the amount of herbicide you sprayed and how many times you spray on it each day.

If you think it’s already dead, cut it off using a chainsaw and make sure the base is included as well. Use a shovel to dig through the soil and reach for the roots. Remove the roots.

Then pour a bit of herbicide solution into the soil, cover it with soil, and place a layer of mulch on top of it. This will prevent any attempt at cactus re-growth to stop.


Killing cactus is not that difficult to do. You just need to prepare the right things, know the right steps and have the proper information and knowledge. By simply following the tips and steps in the article, you’ll surely be getting rid of the cactus in no time.

So no more prickly thorn moments for you! You can share this with your friends, so they’ll also learn from it. You can also tell us what you think by writing in the comment section below.

We’d love to know your thoughts.

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Ben Bareja

Ben Bareja, the owner-founder-webmaster of This website was conceptualized primarily to serve as an e-library for reference purposes on the principles and practices in crop science, including basic botany. Read more here

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