We’ve finally passed the 60 degree mark and the buttercups seem to have appeared overnight!

Best horse-safe way to remove them? I’m thinking I should just try to remove by hand, but do I need to try to get the root or just rip what I can?

take thee to the county extension.
Most animals do avoid the unaltered buttercup in pasture, but once sprayed can’t identify it as such - vet bill or worse.

Buttercups are an indicator plant. I think dense and ‘swampy’, sour perhaps. Take soil samples and have them analysed.

In the meantime, rip out what you can before they go to seed. mow the rest to keep them from spreading.
I think you need to do some pasture rehab.


On my little farm, we are in year seven of removing buttercups. Depending on the size of your acreage, they can be removed by hand and with a spray. I don’t like to use herbicides, so I use a vinegar-based formula. My pastures are kept short, so spraying a plant fries it to a crisp. I hand pull or dig out the tiny plants. Note, once buttercup has dried, it is no longer toxic.

There are a number of types of buttercups. Some spread with underground stolons. Others form a spiny seed head that explodes and disperses seeds during the summer. Those seeds stay viable in the soil for years. Controlling them is a never-ending because of the way they spread. Once you start, you need to be consistent to control the spread. Be aware too, that buttercup seed can be in hay, so manure left in pastures continues the infestation. Since my pasture is only about an acre, I pick up manure daily.

There are herbicides that can be used for broadleafs. Some are safe for livestock. As was mentioned, talk to your extension service about the proper spray for your situation.


Bulbous or hairy makes a difference in what you use.

For hairy buttercup, 2,4-D (ie Pasture Pro) works, but bulbous usually requires an addition of Dicamba (Weedmaster and/or Brash) or aminopyralid (Grazon Next HL). Just know that any type of aminopyralid has a really long carryover, like minimally 18 months, meaning, if you use any of that manure for compost on vegetables it will likely kill them. So, if you do have bulbous, try to do the dicamba

All those are approved for pasture use and accessible to the public

If by “overnight” you mean suddenly there are lots of flowers, they already put out seed for next year. Buttercups aren’t plants that produce seed from the flowers.

You CAN spray to kill the existing plants, though by the time they flower they’re harder to kill, but next year, you will need to spray before they flower. Around here, mid/central NC, that’s early to mid February through around mid-March. Your extension agent should know when that timing is for your location (which I assume is a good bit farther North).

Definitely get the soil sampled and lime and fertilize accordingly, but don’t assume doing that will take care of things on its own. If your pH is really off, it may.

Buttercups like “poor” soil, but they also are fine with soil that’s pretty ok too. They love unfertilized lower pH red clay soil, so it’s not (only) about “swampy”

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Are you sure about that? Spiny buttercup, Ranunculus muricatus, produces seed heads after blooming. If you can spray them before they form seed heads, you can stop the seed production. You may be thinking of creeping buttercup, which spreads with underground stolons.

I tried hand pulling them last year. There were so many I didn’t feel like I even made a dent!

Lacking the energy to actually do a soil test and knowing I really didn’t want to use herbicide anyway, I followed the advice I found online about spreading ag lime. What do you know… fewer buttercups this year. I must have improved the soil enough to discourage them a bit.

That part of my pasture is really only usable in the summer, it’s too wet to mow when I need to mow it to get ahead of weeds. So unless I go out there with the string trimmer it is an ongoing battle.


replace ‘swampy’ with poor drainage… :slight_smile:

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Grazon Next HL is not for sale to: AK, CT, DE, DC, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, LA, NM, TX

Brash is not for sale to: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CT, DC, HI, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PR, TX

Weedmaster is not for sale to: AK, CA, HI, PR,

It does depend where you are.

@Pico_Banana it’s a great recommendation to contact your extension agent. But not all programs are worth anything. I’ve not had any luck with the CT program, for example. I managed my buttercups–a surprise field of solid yellow that spring after we moved in–by using 2,4-D sprayed per label directions as early as I could get into the field in the spring after I saw green. It’s been oh, maybe three years of doing that? and there is no more yellow. It’s been (relatively) cheap & easy and very successful.

You can also spray LATE in the season, like Sept/Oct. Which might be great for you this year?

Good luck!

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My county extension is awesome and we have a three year plan to remove these pesky buttercups. Basically you need to aerate the soil, lime, fertilize, aerate again and then seed heavily. Rinse repeat…If you can get the soil nutrient dense and a high quality grass grown in the area it will eradicate the buttercups naturally as per my county extension officer.


Thanks, all!

This is my second summer on my little farm. Didn’t do anything to grass last summer as I wanted to see what it did. Turns out it was a mix of grass, clover, and weeds. I know the previous owner did zero upkeep on it so not surprisingly it’s in need of work.

I did do a soil test this year and, surprise surprise, we desperately need lime. Couldn’t quite figure out timing and weather, etc., so I ended up only putting down grass seed this spring. We then had a number of weeks of unseasonably cool weather and so it’s still really delicate so I don’t want to do anything to harm the tender grass that’s just barely coming out.

Is it okay to lime in the summer? Or should I wait until fall?

I used a slice seeder to put down the seed this spring and that didn’t work great, so I was already planning to aerate and overseed again in the fall. Good to know that is one suggested approach.

I’m in MA and our county extension agents have never been helpful. You guys are way better. :slight_smile:

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It takes a while (6+ months) for lime to have an affect on your soil. So, maybe apply this fall for next spring’s grass crop. We applied lime a few years ago and realized it took a lot to cover our small pasture. Now that we have the buttercups under control, the pasture has exploded with clover. I’m in the PNW and clover has become a problem everywhere. Can’t win!

I’d lime in the fall. If it’s super acidic you may multiple applications. But, a small change in the pH will likely help your buttercup situation dramatically.

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LOL, yep a bunch of farm wenches.
‘I got buttercups’
Unless it’s the movie, you need lime and fertilizer. And yeah, loosen the soil.

Seems you are on your way.

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Buttercups … my nemesis.

Last year I fertilized, put down lime, sprayed with 2-4d Ester as recommended. And a few weeks ago my farmer friend stopped by to deliver hay, started laughing, and asked if I intentionally seeded for buttercup. UGH.

He informs that in Maryland the best time to spray is Halloween, and he will come take care of my hateful field with Cimarron. Will come back 2 weeks after that to fertilize and re-seed with clover and more grass. He did tell me with the cost of everything it will be higher than otherwise, to which I replied … I DO NOT CARE. KILL THEM ALL!!!

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Best, safest way for small fields and not excessive infestations is popping them out by hand - bulb and roots - using a long handled dandelion weeder which is super quick and super easy, especially after a rain to softens the soil. If your field is large or the infestation is excessive, have a farmer completely turn over the soil, raking off the remains, and reseeding.

Selective weed killers need to be applied multiple times multiple years and kill beneficial insects. In my experience having used them for years multiple times per season, they never eradicate the buttercups completely. I tend to believe they also leave toxins in the ground, although that is just my opinion. Liming a field is good but any eradication of buttercups takes years and multiple application of lime.

I have given up on the spraying and liming and now just attack the weeds by hand with this tool (available at Wal-Mart)

I take a square section at a time and concentrate on popping all the buttercups up before moving on to the next square. It can take all spring but if you pick away at it, the buttercups are eradicated and will not come back.

My fields are now gorgeous and buttercup free. This tool is a godsend!


Well, okay, I will try this!!! I have been going out after rains and pulling buckets and buckets of them. While I know it will take all year to clear the field, I do prefer not to use poison when I can. Even if I can get half the field done, I can keep the beneficial things alive.

Thank you!

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Not sure why… but this sounds like a great option for my kids when they tell me they are bored this summer.

Instead of cleaning chores, they can go dig out buttercups.


Pulling buttercups by hand sounds like a fool’s errand. I swear they multiply overnight.

I’m not one to talk, because I’ve never had any great success getting buttercups under control. But I get really irritated when people (no one on this thread, this is a general complaint) imply it is as simple as basic pasture management or one little change. There are a lot of reasons buttercups become established and they are a b*tch to eradicate once present.


You are correct. That is why it has taken seven years to have an impact on our buttercup invasion. We’ve done everything suggested except spray an herbicide. We compost all manure on our property and some is used in our gardens. The rest goes to a local place that uses it in their soil mixtures. Using an herbicide would force us to take all of the manure to a landfill, which is a waste.

We inherited this problem. The previous owner of the property didn’t know a tulip from a weed, so she let the pasture become infested. Hay fields in our area are full of buttercup, too, so that helps with the spread. It’s been a long slog and we have won some battles, but not the never-ending war.


We inherited our problem too. We just moved to this farm in the fall. Current view:

If you look closely, you’ll see the neighbor’s vacant field across the street looks the same. I pass four other horse farms on my road before mine and they all look the same. So when I see self-righteous posts on social media about irresponsible farm owners who don’t do anything about their buttercups, I just shake my head. It’s not that easy!!!