Cinquefoil Weed Control: Tips For Controlling Cinquefoil Weeds

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By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Cinquefoil (Potentilla spp) is similar in appearance to strawberries; however, this weed isn’t as well-behaved as its domestic cousin. You can tell the difference between the two by looking at the leaves; strawberry leaves have only three leaflets, while each cinquefoil leaf displays five leaflets.

If you determine the bothersome plant is indeed cinquefoil, you have a difficult problem on your hands. Attack the unwanted visitors as soon as possible. Controlling cinquefoil weeds is easiest while the plants are young – before they get a foothold in your garden.

How to Get Rid of Cinquefoil Weeds Organically

Control of cinquefoil requires dedication, as the plant grows from long, persistent taproots. Pulling is a good solution if you don’t have a huge number of plants. Watering the area a day or two ahead makes weed pulling more effective because the weeds are easier to pull and you are more likely to get the entire taproot.

The plant will regrow if you are unable to remove every bit of the taproot. You may be able to make headway with a dandelion weeder, but if the roots are large and well-developed, it may be necessary to use a shovel or garden fork to remove every piece.

Mowing isn’t a good solution for controlling cinquefoil weeds because mowing stimulates growth of the roots and forces the plant to spread.

Cinquefoil Weed Control with Herbicides

Herbicides are always a last resort. Drift of spray herbicides can kill neighboring, untargeted plants, and as the chemicals seep into the soil, the runoff often ends up in waterways and drinking water.

If you decide to use herbicides for your cinquefoil weed killer, follow the directions carefully and use the product only for its intended purpose, as indicated on the label. Many herbicides are not safe to use in the vegetable garden or any place where edible plants are present.

Herbicides containing active ingredients such as Picloram, a systemic herbicide, may be effective, but the chemical is highly toxic. Aminopyralid or Triclopyr are other herbicides that may be effective against cinquefoil.

Products containing glyphosate are comparatively safe and are widely available in garden centers, but control may require several applications.

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