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How To Control Cactuscactus

While they may be attractive ornamentals in some situations and can even be a good source of food, when cacti begins to grow in places where you don’t want them to be, it can become a problem that needs solving. It doesn’t help the fact that a prickly cactus can be quite painful to the touch and if children or pets are nearby frolicking, they could get badly hurt by this plant. On livestock ranches cacti could present a serious problem by interfering with movement and forage space for cattle and other animals.

The cactus family and other similar species such as prickly pear are found throughout the United States and possess over 2,000 different species. The common characteristic of cacti are their sharp prickly spines which if touched can easily pierce skin and be very painful. Cactus plants are extremely tolerant of drought and harsh conditions and are protected from grazing animals to some extent by these spines. Not only are they a pest due to there potential to harm those who touch it, their presence can hinder the growth of competing plants, choking them out if left untreated.

If you have a cacti growing on your lawn or in your pasture land and want it gone, Solutions Pest and Lawn can assist you via professional-grade control products and helpful how-to advice to guide you through a control program that you can easily do yourself.

Browse our cactus killing products below. If you need any help or advice we are always available to speak with via phone, live chat or email so don’t hesitate to reach out.

How To Get Rid of Cacti: 4 Step Solution

Removing cacti from a land through mechanical or organic means can prove to be difficult or ineffective. Mowing down cactus only spreads the problem and because of their painful prickliness, pulling them up by hand is not really a wise choice. We here at Solutions recommend eliminating cacti through chemical means. Using herbicides is easy, inexpensive, environmentally responsible, and effective. Here are the steps we have laid out below which you can follow to eliminate your cacti problem.

Step 1: Identification - For starters, you need to first properly identify and be certain that the plant that you are dealing with on your land is in fact, cactus. It is important to properly identify your problem weed so you can be able to do your homework on the problem and it helps you when trying to select a herbicide for its control since some herbicides are specifically labeled to treat cactus, while others are not.

Cacti are pretty easily identifiable since no matter what species of cacti are present, they all prickly spines or ends of leaves which are sharp to the touch. If for any reason you are not sure whether the problem that is growing on your property is cacti or not, send an email message with a photo attachment of the plant to identification@solutionsstores.com. We will respond back to you promptly with the proper plant ID and will also offer you our top recommendations for herbicide products.


Step 2: Inspection - Scan your property to see where the cacti are growing and how big of an issue it is. Knowing how severe of a problem you have is helpful so you know how much herbicide you may need to conduct treatment applications. Cacti don't just grow in deserts, they can grow anywhere as long as the soil is fast-draining, they receive plenty of sun and the weather is particularly warm. 


Step 3: Control - There are one of two methods where you can chemically control cacti and prickly pear. You can either chemically spray the stem or pads of the plant with an herbicide. Herbicides will be able to move through the plant and destroy it totally. Before you go along and do that you will have to prepare for treatment by readying your equipment and yourself. Use your choice of and handpump sprayer, backup sprayer or mounted ATV sprayer. Protect your body with the proper safety equipment.

Prepare a herbicide spray mix. We recommend using a herbicide that contains picloram or 2,4-DP which has the potential to destroy 76 percent to 100 percent of prickly pear and certain other types of cacti. Make sure to follow the directions on the label closely for the exact details on application rates. We also recommend adding a spray marking dye, to mark plants that have been sprayed and to tell if you are getting a sufficient amount of herbicide on the green pads or stems.

Take an ax and damage the plant. This will help the herbicide to seep into the cactus better. Next, spray the solution on both sides of the pads and stems. There is no specific time of year that you can spray, however, the herbicide may not be as effective if it is too cold or if the cacti are moist. Spray so the cactus is wet, but the solution should not be dripping off the pads. Repeat applications are necessary to ensure the cactus is totally eradicated.


Step 4: Prevention - Once the offending cacti have been neutralized from your property, you need to make sure the problem doesn't rear it's prickly head again. Monitor your property closely for any growth that is undesired. Pull young cactus seedings early before they begin to grow and mature. If you are diligent and keep up a regular monitoring and maintenance schedule with your yard, you shouldn't have a problem with cacti on your property again.


Learn More About Cactus

If you live in a hot part of the world, cacti are probably commonplace to you but cacti are not what we commonly think of having branches or being silky instead of spiky. The truth about cacti is that there are many types of them and they all are different. Cacti belong in the caryophyllales order and the cactaceae family which is Latin for "Spanish artichoke". A study conducted in 2009 estimated the number of different cacti species to be between 1500 and 1800. 

The problem cacti are facing is that some species are nearing extinction because of climate change and only the best adapted species can survive. There might have been many more species of cacti centuries ago but scientists did not have the opportunity to observe them because many of them died out.

Cacti grow in jungles as the temperature there is hot too and since they live in different environments, they're bound to be different in appearance and style. We typically expect cacti to have spikes and they do but the spikes are sometimes so different that we don't recognize them as spikes. For example, the peyote cactus spikes look like shriveled up potato spuds but they're actually meant to be spikes.

Cacti live in hot environments and they need to retain water for very long time. The way they do that is by eliminating leaves which increases evapotranspiration. Instead of leaves, cacti have a spongy material covered by a thin layer of skin that helps retain the water. Water can also condense on the cactus and drip onto the ground where the roots will absorb it. Cacti are so good at retaining water that 90% of the mass of the cactus is water.

Cacti are also very efficient at photosynthesis. Normal leafy plants must open their stoma to absorb co2 and in the process they lose up to 95 percent of the water they absorb but cacti use the method of crassulacean acid metabolism in which the plan opens a stoma only when the water cannot evaporate.


Everybody knows that cacti have spikes for protection. If you've ever tried to pick up a cactus you found out the hard way but what do the cacti that don't have spikes do? They defend themselves with hallucinogenic toxins but even that can only defend against animals not humans since some humans have been known to use the cacti as medicine. 


History Of Cacti

Cacti evolved around 146 to 100 million years ago around the time when the double continent of Gondwana split into Africa and South America. That is the reason why South America has so many species of cacti but surprisingly Africa does not have a lot of cacti. That might be because of the lack of water there or some other environmental factor.

Cacti also spread to North America in the process evolving more and changing to the cacti we know that now populates the American desert. But how did cacti get to North America from South America and how to cacti reproduce? They reproduce by having insects or birds pollinate the flowers which then dropped seeds onto the ground where they grow. The seeds grow some distance away from their original cactus as they need space to grow. That is exactly how the cacti spread from North America to South America.


Additional Resources On Cactus

Pricklypear | Texas Natural Resources Server


SS-AGR-354/AG363: Prickly Pear Cactus Control in Pastures - EDIS



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