Pokeweed, also known as the pokeberry plant has been used in ancient times for medicinal purposes. In the South, there are people who can prepare the pokeberry for use in pies and in different dishes. Since the pokeberry is known to contain toxins, a lot of gardeners today consider the plant as a pest.
The pokeweed is a tenacious grower. There are some who say that it can grow as tall as 10 feet. The berries are also quite dangerous, they can cause a lot of problems if children or pets mistake them for ones that can safely be eaten raw. Getting rid of this plant must be done right away before it’s too late.
These plants typically grow in disturbed soil and they are known to cause problems in small gardens as well as in large fields. They are also known to be very good at survival and in spreading to other areas. You cannot get rid of it by just pulling it and it can also produce 50,000 seeds that is viable for decades.
Things You Need To Prepare
1. A Shovel
This will be used to dig the weed out of the soil. You can also use a garden hoe or a spade if you do not have a shovel.
2. A Soil Screen
This will be used to make sure that all of the roots of the plant are removed. It can also help you avoid having more pokeweed in the future. If you do not have a soil screen, you can use a mesh hardware cloth placed around a wooden frame.
3. A Wheel Barrow
This will be where you pit the soil screen. If you do not have a wheel barrow, you can use a cart or a sturdy box. You can also use wooden crates or perhaps an unused metal drum.
4. An Axe
This will be used to chop up the root of the pokeweed. You can use a machete or a large knife if you do not have any. Do not use kitchen knives since the root contains a lot of toxins.
5. A Rototiller
This is used to break up or till the soil. This is typically not available to home gardeners. You can use a shovel or a spade if you do not have this equipment. You can also use other garden implements such as a pick mattock, a ground breaker bar or a chisel bar.
6. A Broom Rake
This will be used to collect the soil so that it can be screened.
7. Gardening Gloves
Use this so you can avoid injuries and so that you can keep your hands away from the toxic fruits and roots of the pokeweed.
How To Get Rid Of Pokeweed
You need to be very careful when it comes to dealing with pokeweed. You need to keep in mind that if you leave behind some of its seeds or roots, it can still grow in your property. I highly suggest that you avoid pulling them out recklessly since precision work might be needed to get this weed out for good.
Step 1: Pull The Top Part Out Carefully
You need to pull out the top part of the pokeweed by hand. Do it as if you are harvesting a root crop. Make sure that you do not scatter the seeds in the process. If you were able to pull out the base of the plant, you can find a taproot. You need to remove it carefully including the thin roots.
Step 2: Dig A Circle Around The Plant
In some cases, the taproot will not be removed right away especially if the soil has been compacted around it. To loosen the soil, use a shovel to make a circle around the plant. The circle needs to be at least 1 foot in diameter with the plant in the middle.
Dig the soil around the plant so you can pry out the taproot as well as the fine roots around it carefully. You might need to dig deeper if the root cannot be pulled out yet. The taproot must not be discarded right away, you need to chop it up with an axe, put it on a cemented area and let it dry under the sun.
Step 3: Screening The Soil
Place the soil screen on the wheel barrow and use a rototiller to loosen the soil in the area where the pokeweed grew. You need to dig at least a foot deep in the middle of the circular hole that you made. You need to dig deep where you found the taproot so you can loosen the soil in this area.
Using a rake, collect the soil and put it over the soil screen. Try to look for the small roots of the pokeweed as closely as you can. After screening the soil, screen it again for a second time so that you will be able to avoid having to deal with another growth in the future.
Step 4: Disposing The Weed Properly
The roots that you have screened out of the soil must be dried under the sun. You can also do the same for the rest of the plant including the seeds. All these parts need to wither and die before you can throw them away. If you put fresh ones in the garbage bin, they can actually grow in the composting center.
It is very important for you to remove pokeweed out of your property. Aside from being an aggressive grower, the berries can do a lot of harm to your children, pets and even livestock when consumed. The berries contain toxic compounds and so does the roots of the pokeweed.
To get rid of the pokeweed, you need to make sure that the plant is completely removed from the soil. You need to get rid of the taproot and you should also remove the fine roots of the plant. Failure to remove the roots and the seeds from the soil can lead to more pokeweed growth in the future.