Hairy Bittercress Killer (HBK) is a chemical that was developed by Monsanto in the 1970’s. It is a broad spectrum insecticide that kills all insects except those it targets. HBK is not registered for use on food crops but it can be used on ornamental plants such as roses, which are often grown indoors. HBK is widely available over the counter in most grocery stores. It is sold under many brand names including Roundup, Enlist, Enlist Plus, and others.

The main ingredient in HBK is glyphosate, a common name for the active ingredient glyphosate. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicidal agent that attacks both grasses and weeds. It works by disrupting plant metabolism and cell membranes so they cannot perform their normal functions like photosynthesis or respiration. When exposed to high levels of glyphosate, plants die.

However, when applied to non-target vegetation such as flowers or trees, it acts as a weed killer.

HBK is effective against most types of hairy bittercress. It does not kill ragweed and other members of the mustard family. Other species that may survive exposure include burdock, dandelion, catmint and others. It is important to avoid breathing the chemical or getting it in your eyes.

Wear protective eyewear as well as gloves. Avoid getting the chemical on your clothing, skin or hair. When applying it to the ground, be careful not to over-apply it. Always keep it in its container for storage in a dry location out of the reach of children and pets. If you get it on your hands, rinse them off with water immediately. If you get it in your eyes, flush them immediately with water. It is important to read the instructions before use.

In order to kill hairy bittercress, the plants must be exposed to the herbicide on a warm and sunny day when there is no rain in the forecast. They must have ample sunlight and space for the roots to take in the herbicide. The herbicide must not be allowed to dry on the leaves or sit too long on the plant. Ideally, the plants will be growing in a container that can be thoroughly washed out to remove all traces of the herbicide.

It is important not to allow children or pets to roam into the area while treating the plant or it is likely they will get sick from the poison.

The chemical must be applied in a solution of 27 parts water to 1 part herbicide. Be sure to thoroughly mix them together before applying them to the plants. Apply the mixture to the plant leaves until they are soaked but not running with liquid. The plant must then sit in the sun for four hours so the herbicide can dry onto the leaves.

After four hours have passed, the chemical is safe for handling and will not harm people or pets.

After four hours have passed you may safely handle the plant. It will begin to wilt as its metabolism begins to break down. It is best to dispose of it in the trash rather than returning it to the garden because it will begin to break down and be absorbed into the soil where it can kill other plants.

It is important to note that glyphosate is able to travel through the roots of plants and kill them so if you have nearby plants that you do not want to kill, be sure to keep them separated from the treated plant. It is also important to note that the chemical can persist in the soil for many months and can kill plants that grow in that area later so you should not plant anything in that area for at least three months.

If you have hairy bittercress in your garden, it is relatively easy to get rid of it using glyphosate. It is best to wait until the growing season when the plants are actively growing. Make sure that the plants have ample sunlight and room to grow. Then simply apply the herbicide according to the directions on this page and in a few weeks, your garden will be free of hairy bittercress.

Pour bottles into sprayer and fill with water Do not mix more than you can use in 30 minutes

Hairy Bittercress Killer: Learn More About Control For Hairy Bittercress |



What is Hairy Bittercress?

A. It is a weed that resembles cresses such as watercress, but smaller and grows in clumps or patches. It has a hairy appearance and grows most commonly in wet soil that has been altered by human activity. It also grows in dry areas.


Why is it a problem?

A. It is difficult to remove and can grow even in small cracks in the pavement or concrete. It may also be toxic and cause illness if ingested.


Is it in my area?

A. It is possible, but maybe not yet discovered. The only way to know for sure is to test for it.


How do I get rid of it?

A. Since it spreads easily, the best way to deal with it is to dispose of the plant and try not to let it enter your property again. You may also apply a glyphosate-based herbicide to kill the plant.


How do I dispose of it?

A. Since it can spread easily and has poison properties, the best plan is to dispose of it carefully and try not to let it enter your property again.


How do I apply the herbicide?

A. Mix it with water according to the directions on the bottle. Apply it to the leaves until they are soaked but not running and wait four hours before disposing of the plant. Do not let animals or children come in contact with it.


How can I prevent it from coming back?

A. Carefully dispose of any plants you find growing on your property. Try to keep your soil from drying out and try to encourage plants that attract insects to your yard as this is where hairy bittercress gets much of its nutrients and food from.


Is there an alternative to using herbicides?

A. There are some options available to you, such as flame weeding or hand removal but these do not always work and can also be dangerous.


How do I dispose of the dead plant material?

A. The herbicide carries certain risks to humans and animals so it is important that you do not allow it to enter the water supply or leak into the ground and contaminate water or soil. Make sure you dispose of it carefully by wrapping it in paper and throwing it in the trash.


How do I dispose of my clothes?

A. Since the herbicide can damage certain fabrics, make sure you remove all clothing that have come into contact with the herbicide and wash them separately from other clothes. The best way to dispose of them is to place them into a plastic bag before putting it in the trash.


Is there anything else I should know?

A. If you use this product to remove hairy bittercress from your yard, it is possible that you will also damage or kill other plants. Make sure you read all instructions before using.

Sources & references used in this article:

GRAVITAS™ by H Mathers – 2005


Foraging: A practical guide to finding and preparing free wild food by TE DeVaney – 1968 –



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