Figuring out the best way to get rid of a plant species in your garden can be tricky. For example, do you have mistletoe growing in one of your trees or shrubs and want it gone? Can you try using Roundup on mistletoe to kill it? What's the best way to do this?
Well, we've done some digging and have the answers for you below!
Although Roundup proves successful for weeds and other pesky species, we don't recommend applying it to mistletoe. Since mistletoe lives and grows on a host plant (usually a tree), using Roundup could harm the host while killing the mistletoe.
Many experts warn against this as the healthy leaves, stems, and branches of your mistletoe's host shrub/tree will likely die along with the semi-parasitic species.
As we start this post, we will cover all things killing mistletoe and discuss whether using Roundup is a good idea. If you have mistletoe taking over one of your trees, want to control it, or have additional questions or concerns, we're here to help. With that said, let's dive right in!
Can I Use Roundup To Kill Mistletoe?
Although you technically can spray Roundup on mistletoe, that doesn't mean you should. Since Roundup has enzyme-targeting ingredients, it can affect anything it touches.
For example, if you apply Roundup to the mistletoe in your tree or shrub, the chance of it also killing the branch it is on becomes increasingly more probable.
You want to target mistletoe directly, which can become impossible with a potent formula like Roundup. Furthermore, Roundup is fast-acting, so if it touches your healthy plant alongside the mistletoe: expect discoloration and eventual death to that section.
It can be tricky to get rid of mistletoe, as it is semi-parasitic; unlike a regular weed or plant that grows on its own, mistletoe latches onto a "host" and begins multiplying.
That can make removal tedious and result in a fully-infested tree or shrub. However, there are ways around this, which we will discuss later in this article.
What Happens If I Use Roundup On Mistletoe?
If you choose to use Roundup on mistletoe, expect the surrounding area to die. As we said before, because Roundup is so potent, it kills essentially whatever it touches.
One benefit of this herbicide is how quickly it works.
However, that can be an issue with mistletoe. For example, if you were to spray Roundup into one of your tree's branches with mistletoe: there is a chance it will target your tree too.
According to experts, spraying herbicides into a tree increases its chances of dying along with the problem weed/plant. Since mistletoe latches onto healthy plants and uses their energy to grow, killing just them can be tricky.
Semi-parasitic and full-blown parasitic plants depend on their host. Many people don't realize that mistletoe isn't its own self-sustaining species but instead a parasite.
Therefore, you want to try and only target mistletoe and not the tree or shrub it is currently growing on.
What Is The Best Way To Kill Mistletoe?
One of the best ways to kill mistletoe is by pruning it from its host. As we mentioned, mistletoe isn't self-sustaining, so it will be on a tree or sturdy shrub.
You need to cut the mistletoe from the host plant to ensure it no longer feeds from it. Luckily, this process shouldn't be too time-consuming or difficult.
According to the University of California, you want to prune out infested branches as soon as possible. Furthermore, do this by thinning out your host plant's branches, targeting the ones with mistletoe.
Cut out the parasitic plants individually, ensuring no remnants are left behind. You want to remove the entire branch of your host plant if the mistletoe infestation is severe.
It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to mistletoe, so severe pruning is sometimes your only option. Since mistletoe can overpower its host plant over time, you don't want to allow it to get too out of control.
We recommend purchasing a sharp pair of garden shears and getting to work!
WilFiks 25" Bypass Lopper Garden Pruning Shears
These garden shears feature a 25-inch handle, work perfectly for shrubs and tree branches, have a comfortable grip, cut branches efficiently, have a carbon steel blade, and come in two sizes.
What Makes Roundup So Powerful?
The main reason people love Roundup is its effectiveness. Since the main ingredient in this line of herbicides is glyphosate, you can expect it to kill weeds and problem plants within a few hours-days.
Glyphosate essentially targets the enzyme in plants that keep them alive and growing. After you spray your product onto weeds, it begins working to kill them almost immediately.
That's usually a great sign, although, for mistletoe and their host, it can be deadly; Roundup is highly contracted, so even if you only want to kill mistletoe, you could destroy the entire branch it grows on.
Like most high-power herbicides, Roundup isn't always easy to control. One major drawback to this product is it targets the surrounding area where it is sprayed.
For example, if you have a weed near your healthy plants and aren't careful, Roundup can seep into the shared ground and kill everything in sight.
The same applies to the branches in a tree where you might see mistletoe, so keep that in mind.
Can Roundup Kill An Entire Tree?
Yes, Roundup can technically kill an entire tree.
Of course, you would have to apply a significant amount, but this has been done before. Although you shouldn't see an entire host plant die if you target mistletoe, there are cases when the herbicide has spread to other sections.
Remember, the active ingredient in Roundup products is glyphosate. Not only does this chemical target and kill enzymes your plant needs to grow, but it also sticks around for months afterward.
A common problem gardeners run into with Roundup is how potent it remains in the soil. Now think of this but on your tree, and you see why we don't recommend applying it to mistletoe.
If you were to kill all the mistletoe throughout your tree with Roundup successfully, there's a possibility the chemicals are still killing the branches and roots of your tree.
So, stick to pruning instead of spraying any chemicals into your trees or shrubs.
Is Mistletoe Bad For A Tree?
If there isn't too much mistletoe on a tree, it shouldn't negatively affect it. However, mistletoe does tend to spread over time, taking more and more nutrients from its host plant.
So, issues could arise if you allow mistletoe to crawl up and down a tree in your yard.
According to Texas A&M University, when mistletoe latches onto its host tree, it can weaken the tree's ability to fight off other parasites. As this happens, your tree is more susceptible to diseases and eventual death.
Like any parasite, mistletoe can only be unnoticeable to the host for so long. As soon as the mistletoe needs more nutrients than the tree can safely provide, issues happen.
For example, if your mistletoe takes over a section of a healthy tree, it's likely that specific area will become sick first. Next, that disease or lack of nutrients will move to the next closest section.
You can see how this pattern becomes increasingly harmful over time. So, removing the mistletoe from your tree could be best.
How Long Does It Take For Mistletoe To Kill A Tree?
Since mistletoe is fairly slow growing and only semi-parasitic, you shouldn't expect it to kill your tree anytime soon. Most times, you may notice mistletoe targets weaker sections of a tree or large shrub, killing it in stages.
In addition, many experts claim this entire process could take 10-15 years. Of course, that's assuming your tree has a severe infestation of mistletoe, and you don't try and save it.
For example, if you see a few mistletoes begin growing throughout your tree and choose to let them stay: this shouldn't kill your tree.
However, as this mistletoe absorbs energy from your tree (its host plant), this can become a problem later on. Therefore, we recommend pruning out any mistletoes you notice if the branches surrounding them look sickly.
It doesn't take much for a disease to spread throughout an entire tree, so don't ignore signs of a problem.
To Wrap It All Up
Whether you have mistletoe growing throughout your garden or have noticed one for the first time, it's essential to consider your options for removing them. We found that you can get rid of mistletoe with a chemical product like Roundup, although it may kill other healthy parts of your tree or shrub.
Since mistletoe is semi-parasitic, it will need a host plant to live and take nutrients from. Therefore, spraying it with Roundup can cause a chain reaction of death to your healthy host plant.
It's generally better to remove mistletoe with garden shears and prune any affected branches from your tree, so keep that in mind the next time you see one.
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