Fleabane Weed Control: How To Get Rid Of Fleabane Plants

White Fleabane Growing in Red Rock
Image by Jeff Goulden

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Fleabane is a diverse genus of plants with more than 170 species found in the United States. The plant is often seen growing in pastures and open areas or along roadsides. Although well-behaved hybrid varieties of fleabane are available, many types of fleabane are invasive weeds that displace native plants. In the garden, fleabane grows profusely as it draws moisture from other plants.

What is Fleabane?

A member of the aster family, fleabane produces masses of tiny white to yellowish, daisy-like blooms. The plant can reach heights of up to 3 feet at maturity. Fleabane produces seeds prolifically; a single plant can produce more than 100,000 seeds. The fluffy, umbrella-like seed heads are easily dispersed by wind and water. This make the need for fleabane control methods of utmost importance.

How to Get Rid of Fleabane

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Fleabane weed control isn’t easy because of the plant’s long, thick taproot; however, the plant is fairly easy to pull when it is young and measures less than 12 inches. You can also cut young plants with a weed whacker. The key is to remove the plants before they go to seed.

Older, larger plants are harder to pull, but watering the soil simplifies the task and makes it easier to remove the entire taproot. However, pulling mature plants can make the problem worse because you may inadvertently release thousands and thousands of seeds.

To pull mature plants, place a plastic bag carefully over the seed head before pulling or cutting the weed. Dispose of the weeds by burning or place them in the garbage. Never add them to a compost pile.

Managing fleabane may require a two-pronged approach that involves removing weeds by hand in addition to application of herbicides. Using both pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides attacks the plant at different stages of growth. Read the product label to be sure the herbicide is effective against fleabane. Unfortunately, this stubborn plant is resistant to many herbicides, including products containing Glyphosate (like Round-up).

Store herbicides safely out of reach of children. Apply herbicides on a cool, still day when the breeze won’t cause the spray to drift.

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