Does Weed Killer Kill Flowers?

gardener spraying weed killer on flowers

No one wants weeds in their garden, especially when you have put time, effort, and money into your garden. It can be frustrating watching your hard work being destroyed and ravaged by weeds.

To save your garden, weeds should be identified as easily as possible to restore control. If left to thrive, the weeds will undoubtedly flourish as they compete with the flowers for water, nutrients, and minerals and keep returning. 

The manual removal of weeds is outdated. Digging out weeds or hoeing your garden brings thousands of weed seeds to the surface. This is the perfect environment for them to germinate.

Equally, pulling up weeds results in breaking up the roots of perennial weeds such as ground elder and bindweed creates a problem. Pulling the weeds up consequently leaves behind small pieces that grow back into a new plant. 

So what is the solution to banishing weeds from your garden and stopping them from damaging your plants? This is where weed killer for flower beds come in.

Chemically controlled weed killer is a popular solution for eradicating weeds. These chemical-based liquids are designed to permanently eradicate weeds.

The following presents a guide on how to use weed killers without harming your plants.

A Guide On How To Use Weed Killer Without Harming Your Plants

Does Weed Killer Kill Flowers?

Weed killers are designed to kill unwanted plants. So, if not applied with care, the weed killer can kill your plants. However, taking the right precautions and looking for certain features will ensure that you prevent this as best as you can. 

Contact Weed Killer

Contact herbicides contain active ingredients that do not discriminate between weeds and other plants. Unfortunately, post-emergent herbicides can’t always distinguish between your prized plants and the weeds you want to remove.

This type of herbicide can be damaging as overspray or spray drift could potentially damage or kill your cherished plants.

Causes Of Weed Killer Damage

  • Drift when the spray is applied in windy or sunny conditions
  • Using a contaminated watering can or a sprayer that has not been cleaned properly 
  • Leaching of residual weed killers 
  • The absorption of weed killer from plant roots 
  • Mulching with treated mowings or compost that contain weed killer
  • Composted green waste or manure that has been contaminated with hormonal weed killer

The Features To Look For In An Effective Weed Killer

spraying weed killer

Selective vs Non-Selective

A selective weed killer is a herbicide that can be applied to plants and eliminate the targeted weed species without affecting the growth of your plants. An example of this is to use a selective weed killer on lawn weeds such as dandelions, daisies, etc.

These weed killers are best for controlling specific weeds and weed categories as it is selectively toxic to some plants more than others. This is a great choice if you want to remove weeds without the weed killer affecting your desired plants.

Note – Make sure you ensure that the weed killer you have chosen addresses your selected weeds. 

Non-selective weed killers are herbicides that are herbicides which work to kill everything they come in contact with and wiping out any vegetation. This type of weed killer is best used in areas such as driveways, sidewalks, fences, and cracks. 

Pre-Emergent Vs Post-Emergent 

Post-emergent herbicides are most effective when weeds are in their early stages and have emerged from the soil. 

Pre-emergent herbicides are most effective when used on perennial weeds (common garden weeds). They are designed to prevent weeds from growing.

This type of weed killer does not affect any established plant. Rather, it is applied to lawns in the spring and fall to prevent the germination of weed seeds. 


Avoid using weed killer with any strong chemicals especially if you have children or pets.  

Avoid active ingredients such as glyphosate which cannot distinguish between weeds and your plants inevitably killing anything it comes into contact with.


Weeds have a knack for building up a resistance against herbicides they become used to. Try using different products to increase the effectiveness of the weed killer. 

Best Practice: Using Weed Killer And Protecting Your Plants

  • To avoid overspray and drift – make sure you read the label carefully, some weed killers warn against using high-pressure nozzle sprayers and to use a fine spray as an alternative. 
  • Spray weeds should be done in a cool and calm environment when the air is still. Spraying in a windy environment increases the risk of drift. However, if you need to spray and the windy weather continues, consider purchasing a gel or paint herbicide for more control.
  • Take care when spraying areas with newly planted bulbs as dormant bulbs still react to weed killer.
  • Make sure to rinse and clean sprayers and watering cans after use to avoid contamination. Once you have rinsed your sprayer or watering can ensure that the rinsing water is dumped in a non-planted location to avoid leaching. Equally, dumping water on hard surfaces may channel it into nearby planting areas and cause contamination.
  • Ensure that your weed killer is clearly labeled to avoid watering your flowers with herbicide. 
  • Protect your desired plants from spray drift with plastic and cardboard.
  • Avoid walking on areas you have treated
  • Target weeds by spraying the weeds after you have clumped and pinned the leaves. 
  • Target weeds by using a paintbrush or sponge to ensure you are only coating unwanted weeds. 

Final Thoughts

While it is possible for weed killers to harm surrounding plants, this guide shows how it is possible to avoid such damage.

By looking out for the features presented, and following the best practices, it has never been easier to apply weed killer without harming your desired plants.

There are a variety of weed killers designed to be used in different areas and on different plant types. It’s important to note that identifying your weeds beforehand is a great way to get a headstart on choosing the right weed killer for you.