How to Dispose of Cactus?

There are over 2000 species of cacti throughout North America. With their thick and waxy stems, most of these species can reproduce easily and quickly.

Most also have the ability to tolerate droughts.  

However, not all cacti species are wanted. They can quite competitive with other plants and also injure children and pets easily.

Disposing of cacti plants is quite challenging and time-consuming. This is especially true for the dangerous ones such as cholla or prickly pear.

Moreover, cacti can return to the garden, and their growth can spread if the disposal process is not performed correctly.

Hence, it would help if you learned how to dispose of a cactus plant using one of our tried and tested ways.

How to Dispose of Cacti: 3 Ways

In this section, we will discuss three ways in which you can dispose of cactus plants.

However, for each of these methods, you must consider the size, type, and amount of cacti before implementing the disposal strategy.

1. Chemical Eradication

The first method to get rid of cactus is via chemical eradication.

It requires the use of chemicals to destroy the plant. Before you administer this procedure, you must wear thick gloves and protective clothing to ensure your safety.

Using a Herbicide Mixture

An herbicide spray mix can be very effective in getting rid of cacti.

An herbicide that contains picloram can eradicate between 76% and 100% of prickly pear and certain other types of cacti.

To create an herbicide spray mix, you will need:

  • Herbicide with picloram
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent/Surfactant
  • Marking dye
  • Sprayer
  • Shovel
  • Cardboard box
  • Axe
  • Chainsaw
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass
  • Gardening gloves
  • Thick clothing

Mix four parts of the herbicide solution with one part of a non-ionic liquid dishwashing detergent or surfactant to create the mixture.

This will increase the efficacy of the herbicide solution. Add one to two parts of marking dye to the solution as well.

This will help you determine whether you have sprayed all of the cacti sufficiently or not.

After you have prepared your solution, damage the cactus plant with a shovel. Then spray the solution on both sides of stems and pads.

Even though there is no specific time of year to spray, herbicides may not be as effective if it is too cold or humid.

It would help if you sprayed enough solution to ensure the cacti are wet. However, ensure that the mixture does not drip off the pads.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to using herbicides for removal.

Cacti are tenacious and will often regrow. You might have to repeat this process several times before you are successful.

If one method is unsuccessful, try a combination of different methods.

For example, you can use the herbicide mixture along with physical removal (mentioned later in this article) on as much of the cactus as you can.

Warning: Do not spray the herbicide mixture within 20 yards of endangered plants. Avoid spraying it need wanted trees or plant. Do not spray it within 100 feet of a sinkhole, creek, or an area where the herbicide could seep into an aquifer or combine it with groundwater.

Using a Vinegar Solvent

Another way to get rid of cactus using chemical eradication is to make vinegar solvent. Vinegar has been used for decades to control weeds.

Combine one tablespoon of vinegar and one tablespoon of gin with one quart of water to help you kill unwanted cactus plants.

Add in one tablespoon of dish soap as well to increase efficiency.

However, it may take several tries before you get rid of the cacti using the vinegar mixture. To speed up the process, you should consider physical removal, which we will discuss ahead.

2. Physical Removal

The second method for cactus disposal is physical removal. This is, by far, the most effective method on this list.

Before you proceed, you need to put on protective clothing. Make sure your arms, legs, and feet are fully covered.

We also suggest wearing gardening boots that cover your ankles and thick gloves. It is also wise to wear protective goggles, especially if you have a giant cactus that needs to be cut.

Cactus thorns can be very painful and difficult to remove, so make sure you take these precautions to avoid contact.

First, if you have a giant cactus, cut it with the help of a chainsaw. Then use an ax to chop it into small, manageable pieces.

Ensure that you pull away all portions of the cacti that you cut and place them into a cardboard box.

Remember to use the thickest cardboard box that’s available to you. This will prevent the cacti from resurfacing from small pieces.

Make sure you place the pieces in the box as soon as you cut them and ensure they do not have any contact with the ground.

Once you have cut and boxed the top, use a shovel to dig until you see the plant’s main root. You will be able to see it after digging approximately 2 to 4 inches under the soil.

Dig out as much of the root system as possible and dig as possible so you can get under the roots.

Your goal is to destroy the main root of the cacti. You can do this by chopping it carefully but efficiently with an ax.

As you work on the physical removal of cacti, watch out for spines on the ground. Some are really sharp and can penetrate your shoes.

You should also check your clothing and gloves for any embedded spines.

With the help of a magnifying glass and tweezers, you can remove the spines and place them in the cardboard box as well.

Once you have cut and boxed the top, the severed root, and the spines, seal the box and take it to your local dumpster or place of disposal that will accept cacti waste.

3. Overwatering

A sure and extremely common way to kill a cactus plant is overwatering it, as noted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

Overwatered cactus plants become brown and soft and lose their vigor. They also turn mushy due to the high water content and start to rot.

The stems of overwatered cactuses become weak, and this eventually causes the plant to tip over.

Once your cacti plants rot and turn into mulch, you should immediately remove them from their place.

Please make sure you pick up any cactus pieces that might have fallen over and box them with the rest of the plant for dumpster disposal.

Make sure you never leave part of the plant on the ground as it can start regrowth.

The Dumpster Disposal Process for Cacti

Many people do not want to get into the whole chemical procedure of getting rid of chemicals because, honestly, it can be pretty dangerous.

So, if you do not want to use chemicals to deal with a cactus, you’ll have to rely on physical removal or overwatering.

Both overwatering and physical removal simply mean getting rid of the plant.

Once you have killed it, you dispose of it in a sealed cardboard box in normal yard waste or just throw it in the garbage. You can also add the pieces to compost as this can increase the chances of vibrancy for plants.

If you are disposing of cacti in a dumpster or landfill, make sure you are aware of the regulations.

Different cities have different rules and services. So, do check your local regulations and call authorities to confirm if they will accept your waste.

We suggest you wear protective clothing while taking the cacti pieces to the place of disposal, like a dumpster. You never know what you will encounter on the way, so it is better to stay protected!

What Happens after Cactus Removal?

Suppose you have removed and disposed of the undesired cactus plant from your backyard following all the instructions mentioned above.

Now what? Even if you did severe the root system heavily, you must know the cacti are very stubborn plants.

They can grow all on their own in deserts and can survive for several hundred years!

Therefore, it is not uncommon for a cactus plant to start going again in your backyard, even if you have sprayed the area with chemicals.

If you ever witness regrowth, we suggest that you just repeat the removal and disposal process. The process will be easier each time you repeat it since the new plants won’t be as large as the previous ones.

Final Words

Cactus is one strong plant that can survive drought and grow without the help of a lot of water.

Many people believe that this tenacious plant can only grow in dry places, but this is not true. Cacti can also grow in your backyard or garden as uninvited guests.

So, if you were searching for an article to help you with the disposal of cactus, we hope your search ends here.

We are confident that our suggestions will help you eliminate unwanted cacti by properly disposing of them.

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