How To Kill A Cactus Growth?

A  Cactus plant can live in drought and require less water while growing. You can keep it indoors or grow it in your garden but sometimes they grow on their own in the garden. As they have spiny surfaces and waxy stems, they might harm kids and pets that can be a reason, people want to get rid of them. If you also want to know how to kill a cactus, then this article is for you. Here, we will discuss some methods on how to kill a cacti’s growth.

How to Kill A Cactus?

The two most common methods to kill a cactus are :

  1. Herbicide Method
  2. Manual Method

Before you proceed with killing the cactus, take care of a few things like wear shoes to protect your feet from the prickly spines and also wear gloves to avoid any injury. You should follow some precautions and points while dislodging and removing the cactus.

Herbicide Method

You will require certain materials for using this method such as Herbicide containing picloram, Spray bottle, Axe and Shovels, etc.

There are many different types of herbicides available in the market. Using a herbicide containing picloram is the most commonly used and efficient way of killing the cactus. 2,4 DP or Hexazinone can also be used instead of picloram.

Follow the directions written on the bottle and combine the herbicide and water to make a 1% solution of concentrated herbicide which is very effective in killing the cactus. Add a non- ionic surfactant or dishwashing liquid soap to this solution. 

Add ½ or ¼ ratio of surfactant to make the herbicide more effective in killing the cactus. Some people recommend adding dishwashing liquid soap to the herbicide for better absorption.

After preparing the solution, fill the spray bottle with this solution and wear gloves and shoes for your protection from the spines.

Cut the cactus with an axe or shovel before using the spray as it will help in easily killing the plant. Spray the herbicide solution all over the cactus plant and once the cactus is wet, you can pull the plant out with the help of an axe. Keep the plant carefully in a cardboard box.

A dye either blue or any other colour can also be used in the solution as when you spray the cactus with a herbicide solution containing a dye, it will inform you about the areas that are covered and  also if there are any parts skipped by you. 

 Picloram works effectively in killing prickly pear, tasajillo, dog cacti and tree cholla. Picloram imitates auxin, a growth hormone  and the treated cactus keep growing till it dies. 

Precautions while using picloram

 A license is required in some countries like USA to use herbicides having picloram. 

You have to use picloram repeatedly for two to three years to eradicate the cactus plant completely. It can be harmful to some species that are picloram sensitive as it remains active for months or even years after its application.

When you spray a cactus plant with an herbicide containing picloram, it may destroy the plants and trees that are closer to the cactus. 

It can enter into the soil or spread up to one kilometer, thus damaging the plants in the area or even contaminate water.

Manual Removal

 The small, baby cacti plants which grow in the garden can be removed manually. You need an axe or a shovel, a cardboard box, and a pair of gloves for the manual removal of the cactus plant.

Before you start, cover yourself properly and wear gloves. Begin with cutting the cactus with an axe and further make its small pieces. To make sure that you don’t leave any piece on the ground, put these pieces into a cardboard box otherwise the left pieces can harm or prick anyone.

When you have removed the top part of the cactus, remove the left portion of the plant at a slower pace with an axe or a shovel simply.

Take out the soil near the cactus by digging it with a shovel 2 to 4 inches. Pull out the plant along with the roots.

Put all the pieces in the cardboard box to dispose of them. Examine your gloves and clothes carefully if any spicules are adhered to them.  Keep checking with the help of a magnifying glass and remove them with the tweezers.

You can dispose of the box with cacti pieces in a dustbin or make compost from it and the process is complete. 


These methods are successful in killing the cactus plant. But be careful while following any of them. In some countries, you may need a license issued by the Department of Agriculture to buy herbicide . Spray the herbicide carefully to make sure that it is not sprayed on the nearby plants or trees.

Some cacti species may need many rounds of the removal process to completely remove the plant from your area. Both the methods can be used simultaneously to totally eradicate the cactus plants.

Will Bleach Kill Cactus

While we are trying to find various ways for how to kill a Cactus, will bleach kill Cactus? Bleach, when used in sufficient amount kills cactus plants. Bleach has chlorine that is used for killing the germs present in water. Use the bleach in very diluted form in very small quantity and apply it  rarely to make a good use of it or it can cause more harm than doing any good.

The bleach will kill the roots but the pads on coming in contact with  the soil will develop roots again.

 Always wear leather gloves, use long tongs and a cutting tool with long handle while dealing with a cactus plant. Even if there are no spines, tiny hairy spines can be present thus, causing an injury.

Killing Cactus With Salt

If you are not sure how to kill a cactus, is killing cactus with salt a good idea?

Yes, using a few granules of rock salt will be sufficient to kill the cactus plant.

 It will work fast, but,if the plant does not wilt in two days, you can add a little more rock salt near the plant base. Water the plant immediately after adding the rock salt to dissolve the salt into the soil.

Best Way To Clear Cactus From Land

There are two best ways to clear cactus from land, one method is by removing top part and the other method involves spraying a small, potent concentration of herbicide directly on the plant. 

Remove the top part and cut the main root of cactus 2 to 4 inches beneath the soil surface with the help of a shovel or a grubbing hoe. Get rid of the cut plant. However, the pads when tuoching the soil develop roots and grow into a new plant.  Controlled burning can also be used but the fire isn’t selective. 

Will Roundup Kill Cactus

When we are in dismay as how to kill a cactus, will Roundup Kill cactus.

 Glyphosate, known as Roundup when directly sprayed on the cactus plants again and again, it will kill most cactus species but the plants can resist a single direct spray and remain alive.

Roundup is a herbicide used to kill various annual and perennial grasses, weeds, shrubs and trees in gardens and home landscapes.

Will Vinegar Kill Cactus

 Vinegar that is used in our houses contains 5 percent of acetic acid. Will vinegar kill cactus? It will kill cactus if you pour vinegar over a plant, it will result in withered and brown leaves and cactus will die. But, the roots remain alive and the plant can grow again in a few days.

How To Not Kill A Cactus?

As we all know that most cacti are low-maintenance plants surviving without much care. So, how to not kill a cactus becomes easy as all it needs is to follow a few tips :

  1. Keep the cactus plant in bright sunlight.
  2.  Water the cactus according to the season as during the growth in spring and summer, they need more water than in winter and in the fall, when they are resting.
  3. Select a pot or container having more drainage holes to ensure that water is drained properly to avoid root rot.
  4. Mix potting soil with sand, perlite, or pumice for better drainage.
  5. Avoid overwatering and overfertilizing the plant to keep bugs especially mealybugs away.

How Hard Is It To Kill A Cactus?

Killing pricklypear and other cacti can be hard as many seeds are still in the soil that can germinate on getting the favourable conditions.

 All you need to kill a cactus is by overwatering it once or a few times. 

Place your plant in a dark corner. Keep the cactus at a temperature much lower than its level of tolerance.

 A potted cactus can also be killed by overfertilizing it. 

Avoid watering the plant for many months or years will ultimately lead to the death of the cactus plant.


Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

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