One method of weed control not often seen in the urban garden is flame weeding. In this technique, a flame is applied to the unwanted plants, killing them off.
The term flame weeding is a bit misleading since you don’t need to and shouldn’t actually set the plants on fire. What you are aiming to do is cause the cells in the plants to explode from the heat of boiling the water inside the plants. When done on small plants, usually a split second is an effective dose to wilt and kill the targeted weed.
There are many advantages to flame weeding. It can be used to clear tough weeds from rock gardens and between cracks and pathways. Flame weeding also does not expose new weed seeds to the surface like manual weeding with a hoe can. With perennial weeds, hoeing may not kill the plant and it can resprout. With a flame weeder, the damaged leaves will drain the root of resources ensuring a faster demise.
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:
- Flame weed in the morning, since the morning dew on other plants will give you an extra bit of buffer time should you be a bit overzealous in your flaming
- Never flame weed poison ivy or other poisonous plants as the smoke from these plants can still carry the poisonous oils, causing lung and skin conditions
- Be extra careful around your desired plants as sometimes a short burst of heat can kill them as well
- Be careful not to ignite other dry material and if conditions are especially windy.
Flame weeders can be purchased online and in specialty garden centers.
Cover Image by smalltownguy22, used under its Creative Commons license.