How to Get Rid of Nightshade

Atropa belladonna, otherwise known as nightshade, deadly nightshade, devil's herb and belladonna, is considered a toxic plant. Though nightshade has medicinal purposes, unless you are an herbalist or medical expert, it would be advisable to remove it from your yard. The berries are poisonous and should not be on properties where children and animals can potentially ingest it. Nightshade can be very hard to get rid, especially in fields and acreage, but it can be removed from the home garden or landscape with persistence.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber or plastic gloves

  • Digging tools

  • Rake

  • Mulch

  • Vinegar

  • Yard waste containers

Step 1

Identify the nightshade plant by using images from books, online or with the help of neighbors who recognize it clearly. It can be a pretty-looking plant with red berries. The plant has a purplish stem and dull, dark green leaves from 3 to 10 inches long. Flowers are purple.

Step 2

Verify there are no children or pets in the area you will be digging.

Step 3

Put on your gloves and gather the digging tools. It's a good idea to avoid contact with the plant.

Step 4

Loosen the soil around the plant with a pitchfork or shovel. Go as wide as possible because you want to remove the entire root system.

Step 5

Pull the plant out by the root. If pieces of the root stay in the ground, you'll have more nightshade growing soon, unless you routinely till the soil. Pull out all the plants you can find. This is best done before they go into the berry stage, as berries will eventually seed more plants. Birds carry them, too, distributing them far and wide.

Step 6

Place all the weeds, berries, broken off roots into yard waste receptacles or burn in a suitable area, using safety precautions.

Step 7

Mulch the area with thick, heavy layers of mulching materials. This will help reduce more weeds, and if they happen to return, you will be able to pull them out more easily.

Step 8

Spray vinegar directly on leaves you are unable to remove. This is a natural way to kill the plant and seems to work systemically. Pull the plants that die back to allow no further roots

Step 9

Repeat the vinegar and weed-pulling as needed throughout the growing season.

Tip

Soaking the ground around plants can sometimes help loosen the soil enough for easier pulling.

If you have a large farm or garden, repeated tilling may help keep the plant population to a minimum, but this is not guaranteed.

Consult with local master gardeners regarding other nontoxic ideas, or as a last resort ask them what weed killers will work. Remember, though, that most chemical weed killers are highly poisonous as well, and cause other damage, so be fully informed before using.

Warning

Don't squeeze the berries with bare hands as this can cause irritation to adults. Always keep children and small animals away from any toxic plants, but in case of ingestion, immediately consult an emergency service that specializes in poisons.

References & Resources