Bleach is a common household item that’s sometimes used as a weed killer.
It’s true that bleach kills weeds. But this comes at an environmental cost. And it’s not suitable for use in most gardens.
While killing horsetail with bleach is possible, it’s not usually a practical solution for most people.
So in this article, we look at the pros and cons of this approach. And suggest some alternative methods that might be better suited to solving your horsetail problems.
How Does Bleach Kill Weeds?
Bleach is poisonous to all plant and animal life. So it’s certainly not good for weeds.
Bleach has a very high pH and makes the soil alkaline when added in sufficient quantity. This makes the soil inhospitable to plant growth. And most weeds will die from this change in conditions.
Can You Kill Horsetail With Bleach?
Bleach kills most weeds that you find in your garden. And it can be very effective against small and young weeds. But killing horsetail with bleach is very difficult. Once the plant is established it may be impractical to add enough bleach to the soil to prevent it from growing.
Horsetail is a very hardy and persistent plant. With a very deep and extensive root system that allows it to take up nutrients, water, and oxygen over a large area.
And the waxy cuticle of the horsetail plant above ground makes it impervious to many chemicals. Before adding weed killer, many gardeners crush and bruise the leaves and stems to allow the herbicide to get access inside the plant.
You could try a similar approach before coating the horsetail in bleach. But this will still only kill the part of the plant that’s above ground. The horsetail plant will regrow. So you would need to repeat the treatment every time you see new shoots growing from the soil.
If you repeatedly kill the young shoots you can eventually exhaust the plant. At this point, it will no longer grow and spread.
Why I Don’t Recommend Killing Horsetail With Bleach
As mentioned above, it’s a difficult method to use for horsetail control. But that’s not all.
Adding large amounts of bleach to your soil will also make it unsuitable for growing anything else. And it can be many months before conditions improve to a point where you can replant the area. Bleach also reduces the quality of your soil by killing all the insect and microbial life it contains.
Another problem is that bleach can contaminate nearby areas of your garden containing desirable plants. Changing the soil conditions and causing them harm.
Bleach can also get into the groundwater. And if you live near water it can pose a threat to aquatic organisms.
And to be honest, there are better ways to kill horsetail than by using bleach.
What Other Methods Can You Try?
A more effective way of controlling this invasive weed is to use a good weed killer for horsetail. But you need to choose one that uses the right chemicals.
Some people prefer a more natural approach and don’t want to spray chemicals in their yard. Instead, they try to use vinegar to kill horsetail. But this isn’t as effective as systemic chemical weed killers as it won’t kill the roots of the plant, which can still regrow.
If you don’t want to use weed killer in your yard, then a good natural way of killing horsetail is to change the soil conditions to be less favorable.
Horsetail thrives in wet soil with low oxygen levels. By changing the soil to conditions that are more suitable for desirable plants than for horsetail you can gradually prevent its spread. And eventually, you’ll see it disappear altogether. But this can take a number of years to achieve.
You can find out more about common methods of controlling horsetail here: