Horticultural Vinegar for Weed Control, Part 1



The advice on horticultural vinegar presented below is republished with permission by Miriam Kritzer Van Zant, President/CEO of Community Conservation Botanical Garden of Southern Illinios. You can reach Miriam and the Botanical Garden at ccbgsi@gmail.com with questions about this recipe and what works in your locality.

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on using horticultural vinegar. Part 2 gives instructions for making vinegar defoliants and includes new formulas, developed for the acid, wet soils of southern Illinois.

Horticultural vinegar, diluted to 15 to 20 percent acetic acid, is used as an ingredient for making defoliants for controlling weeds, including poison ivy. Horticultural vinegar can also be diluted with water to 6 to 10 percent for cleaning. Horticultural vinegar is usually sold by the gallon at concentrations of 20 to 30 percent. USDA allows the sale of unadulterated vinegar at these concentrations as an inert ingredient. However, once mixed into a defoliant, pesticide licensing regulations affect availability, distribution, and increase costs. Therefore, horticultural vinegar is usually offered as is.

Most defoliant formulas now available on the internet promise great results, and were developed for use in arid regions, such as Texas, California, and Australia, known for well drained soils. University studies of acetic acid-based defoliants have shown mixed results in other locations. These include experiments in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

Community Conservation Botanical Garden of Southern Illinois (CCBGSI) is a 501 (c)(3) charity working to establish a conservation botanical garden and sustainable tourism trail in southern Illinois. CCBGSI emphasizes conservation of local native plant varieties and best organic gardening methods for the region.

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