How to Clear Hogweed From Your Garden

hogweed

Hogweed (Heracleum spondylium) is the more common cousin to the more dangerous giant hogweed. It is a weed that you will often find in UK gardens. While giant hogweed, especially if there is a lot of it, is best dealt with by professionals, it is possible for gardeners to clear hogweed from their gardens on their own.


hogweedFirst of all, it is important to note that hogweed could find a useful place in certain parts of an organic garden. It is a useful plant that can attract a wide range of pollinators and other useful wildlife. What is more, very young hogweed shoots can be eaten in moderation (it is peeled and eaten somewhat like asparagus), and the seeds can be used as an alternative spice – somewhat similar to cardamom, that can be used to make foraged curries, ice creams or other dishes. Note however, that confident identification is crucial – there are several other scary members of this plant family – including the giant hogweed mentioned above – which could be dangerous.


It is also important to note that hogweed itself can be dangerous. It's sap is a phytophototoxin. This means that when we get it on our skin, and are exposed to sunlight, we can get nasty burns. The toxin is far less strong in common hogweed than in its giant cousin, but the plants should still be treated with caution.


hogweedIf you have to get rid of hogweed from growing areas, paths or patio areas in your garden, the first stage is to make sure you cover your skin, and wash any sap off immediately if you get any on you. If you are dealing with giant hogweed, as mentioned above, you may wish to get in the professionals. For common hogweed, however, you can generally get rid of individual plants without too much difficulty – though eradicating it entirely may be a challenge, especially if there is a lot of hogweed growing wild in the surrounding area.


hogweed seedsIn an organic garden, you will, of course, not resort to damaging and harmful weed killers. You will, therefore, have to put in some physical effort to get rid of the plants. Hogweed will regrow readily when simply chopped to the ground. It is necessary, therefore, to uproot as much of the root system as possible. Loosen the roots with a fork before pulling as much as possible from the ground.


If you cannot remove hogweed, you can at least carefully cut off the flowering heads or seed heads to prevent them from spreading in your garden. Keeping on top of collecting the seeds can be a good way to allow some space for wildlife friendly hogweed in your garden without allowing it to take over.

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