Will 2 4 D Kill Clover, Dandelions, Cattails, or Horsetail

2-4-D is a widely used selective herbicide used for controlling many broadleaf weeds including clover. In fact, it is very effective even for some of the more persistent and aggressive varieties of clover, as well as dandelions, cattails, and horsetails. These perennials are often highly resilient and just keep returning year after year despite best efforts to pull, pick, control, or eradicate for good.

Now I may be a lover of the natural world, but I do draw the line at more formal settings such as a lawn, borders, or pond full of unsightly weeds and I’m guessing that you do too. So, to help you achieve an outdoor space that you are proud of here’s what I know about using 2 4 D to kill clover, as well as other unsightly weeds such as dandelions, cattails, and horsetail.

Will 2 4 D Kill Clover

Will 2 4 D kill cover? In short yes, in fact, it is very effective in killing clover amongst other weeds. It’s a selective herbicide meaning that it can be used to get rid of clover (and other broadleaf and grassy weeds) without causing damage to many varieties of established turfgrass.

2-4-D is a chemical used in many brands of selective herbicides. It is a synthetic auxin and is well regarded as being a highly effective weed killer. It is classified as a systemic herbicide. This means it will kill the entire root of the weed, not just the part it comes into contact with.

It’s a great option if you have a widespread clover problem because it can be sprayed over weeds to cover leaves and stems and – given the right conditions – will be absorbed by the weed, eventually reaching the roots at which point, it will kill the entire plant.

It can also be used in the same way to eradicate small patches of clover in your lawn, pasture, or borders.

Will 2 4 D Kill Red or White Clover

2 4 D can be used to effectively kill all types of clover including red and white clover. It can be applied as a post-emergent herbicide either to patches of nuisance clover or to the entire lawn if you have a particularly large infestation. Young, tender weeds respond particularly well to a dousing of 2 4 D and you can expect to begin seeing withered and brown clover within 48 hours and eventually dead clover in around 2 weeks.

Typically, clover prefers well-drained and nutrient-deficient soils in areas with little rainfall and mild winters. It is pretty aggressive too, finding a way to grow through lawns, borders, in paths, and amongst pastures providing there is plenty of sunshine.

Will 2 4 D Kill Dandelions

Just like clover, 2 4 D does kill other broadleaf weeds such as dandelions. You will need to spray all visible parts of the dandelion weed – ideally at the beginning of the active growing season – in order for the 2 4 D active ingredient to penetrate through to the root.

After being sprayed the dandelion will begin to wither and wilt within 48 hours but will take 2 weeks or more to completely die off.

Will 2 4 D Kill Cattails

2 4 D is effective at getting rid of cattails provided you use a pellet variety of systematic herbicides. Once the pellets are scattered across the body of water that the cattails are submerged in they work by sinking into the weed bed and gradually expanding.

The herbicide quickly disperses in the water and then gets absorbed through the stems, leaves, and roots of the cattails causing them to stop growing and eventually die. The entire process can take around one month but initial results can be seen in as little as a week.

Applying this type of 2 4 D product will generate successful results regardless of the time of year or climate.

Will 2 4 D Kill Horsetail

Despite its aggressive and invasive nature, 2 4 D is one of the only selective herbicides that are effective at killing Horsetail. This particular weed can be particularly problematic due to the rhizomes as well as roots that twist and weave to become embedded in grassland and crop fields and is also a common garden weed.

Using a selective weed killer that contains the active ingredient 2 4 D will systematically travel throughout the weed until it reaches the root, ceasing growth and ultimately killing the horsetail. For the most effective results, you will need to apply this to dry weeds on a still day.

Will 2 4 D Kill Buttercups

Herbicides that contain 2 4 D are not commonly known for being effective at killing buttercups. Creeping buttercups in particular are known for their aggressive nature, especially if allowed to take hold in your garden and if left unattended for a couple of seasons.

The most effective chemical for killing buttercups is glyphosate and this can be found in many commercial non-selective herbicides. The problem with non-selective herbicides, of course, is their ability to kill everything they come into contact with and not just the patches of nuisance buttercups. This is fine unless the buttercups have invaded your prized lawn.

Like most weed perennials, buttercups need a systematic weed killer that can seep through stems and leaves in order to reach the root and be destroyed. Contact weed killers will only harm outer leaves and visible stems and will not affect the root system.

Can You Use 2-4-D Weed Killer on Lawns?

Some selective herbicides use 2 4 D as the main active ingredient because it targets the growth regulator in some varieties of weeds without destroying your lawn. These types of weed killers are typically used in lawn weed and feed products when you are looking to get rid of weeds and improve the appearance of your lawn all at once.

There are exceptions, however, and you should always check the labeling on your 2 4 D product because some are not suitable for use on some southern lawns such as Centipede, St. Augustine, and Zoysia grass.

My go-to is this product from Ortho WeedClear Lawn Weed Killer because this one is suitable for Southern lawns as well as northern lawns too.

Ortho WeedClear Lawn Weed Killer

2 4 D should be avoided on newly sown lawns or fresh sod. In fact, it’s best to avoid using weed killer on new lawns for the first 2 to 6 months.

How to Mix 2-4-D Amine?

2 4 D can be purchased either as a ready-to-use formula or as a liquid that will need to be diluted with water. The ratio of 2 4 D to water will vary from product to product so always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using.

I prefer the pre-mixed formula. They do work out to be more expensive, but they usually come with a sprayer that can be attached to the nozzle on the container and it makes for a less hassle and less messy way of getting the job done.

With solutions that need to be diluted, you often need to buy either a backpack or handheld sprayer. This is great if you have larger areas to cover or a persistent weed infestation and the sprayer just needs to be washed out with water and kept safe and secure ready for the next time to need it.

When & How to Use 2-4-D

The best time to apply 2 4 D is in Fall and then again in Spring. In a liquid format, this herbicide is sensitive to temperature changes where anything lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit will reduce its effectiveness, and temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit will cause it to evaporate. Of course, this means using 2 4 D in the warmer summer months is practically pointless.

You should also wait for a dry and still day, ideally mid to late morning once the dew on your lawn has evaporated to apply 2-4-D weed killer. 2 4 D will be less effective if it is applied to wet surfaces because water acts as a protective barrier and will prevent the chemical penetrating the weed. Plus, even a mild wind will blow the chemical particles in places where it is not intended.

You can use 2 4 D either as a spot treatment for small patches of weeds or it can be used to treat your entire lawn. Application is the same in either event. Douse the dry leaves and stems with the herbicide and avoid using the area for 24 to 48 hours after.

How Long Does It Take For 2 4 D to Kill Weeds

On average 2 4 D takes 14 days to completely kill weeds and it is classified as a slow-release herbicide. 

However, you can expect to see the first signs of wilting and browning of leaves and stems with 48 hours. Weeds will continue to deteriorate and shrivel to nothing as the chemicals continue to penetrate deeper into the weed, eventually reaching the root.

Persistent and widespread weed coverage may require further applications.