garden grow

What Kills Milkweed But Not Grass?

What Kills Milkweed But Not Grass Effective Ways to Kill Weeds
What Kills Milkweed But Not Grass Effective Ways to Kill Weeds from

When it comes to gardening, it’s important to know how to eliminate unwanted plants without harming the ones you want to keep. One common dilemma is finding a solution that kills milkweed but not grass. Milkweed is a vital plant for pollinators, especially monarch butterflies, while grass is often desired in lawns and landscapes. This article will explore various methods to control milkweed without causing harm to grass, enabling you to maintain a healthy and balanced garden.

Understanding Milkweed

Milkweed (Asclepias) is a group of perennial plants known for their importance in supporting monarch butterflies. These plants provide food and habitat for monarch caterpillars, as well as nectar for adult butterflies. However, in certain areas, milkweed can become invasive and compete with other desirable plants like grass.

Methods to Control Milkweed

When dealing with milkweed, it’s important to choose a control method that targets it specifically, while sparing grass. Here are some effective strategies:

Hand Pulling

If you have a small milkweed infestation, hand pulling can be an effective method. Ensure you remove the entire root system to prevent regrowth. It’s crucial to identify milkweed correctly to avoid accidentally pulling up desirable plants.


Herbicides can be a powerful tool for controlling milkweed, but it’s crucial to select the right one. Glyphosate, a popular herbicide, kills most plants, including milkweed and grass. However, there are selective herbicides available that target broadleaf plants like milkweed while sparing grass. One such herbicide is triclopyr, which effectively kills milkweed but has little to no impact on grass.

When using herbicides, it’s essential to follow the instructions carefully, as incorrect application can harm surrounding plants. Additionally, it’s crucial to choose herbicides that are safe for the environment, especially if you have pollinators like bees in your garden.


Another method to control milkweed without harming grass is smothering. This involves covering the milkweed plants with a thick layer of mulch or black plastic. The lack of sunlight will eventually kill the milkweed, while grass underneath can continue to grow. However, this method may take longer to be effective and requires monitoring to ensure the milkweed doesn’t find a way to grow through the covering.


Regular mowing can help control milkweed by preventing it from flowering and setting seed. This method is most effective when used in combination with other control strategies like herbicide application or hand pulling. Mowing alone may not completely eliminate milkweed, especially if it has already established a strong root system.

Preventing Milkweed from Spreading

Preventing milkweed from spreading is just as important as controlling existing plants. Here are some measures you can take:

  • Monitor your garden regularly for milkweed plants and take action promptly.
  • Cut off the seed pods before they open and disperse seeds.
  • Remove any milkweed seedlings as soon as they emerge.
  • Plant grass varieties that are more aggressive and can outcompete milkweed.


Controlling milkweed while preserving grass can be challenging, but it’s achievable with the right methods and strategies. Whether you choose to hand pull, use selective herbicides, smother, or mow, it’s crucial to act promptly and consistently. Preventing milkweed from spreading is equally important to ensure long-term control. By implementing these measures, you can strike a balance between maintaining a healthy lawn or landscape and supporting pollinators like monarch butterflies.

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