Will Vinegar Kill Buttercups?

Whilst buttercups may appear to be sufficiently aesthetically pleasing and, thus, innocent, the reality is that they couldn’t be further from it. 

These flowers, although unsuspecting, are tremendously fast-growing, and many are surprised to learn that they’re toxic too. 

They have the ability to evoke all sorts of ailments in animals and humans alike, from skin irritation to stomach inflammation. 

Hence, most consider buttercups to be weeds, and when we spot them springing up in our gardens, it’s only natural that the first call of action is to kill them! 

The market offers plenty of ways to combat this much too common problem, and even household vinegar has been cited as an effective solution. But is it?

I looked into this assertion and will be sharing all today.

So, will vinegar kill buttercups? With the right vinegar mixture, you can certainly kill buttercups with vinegar. However, it is worth noting that the effectiveness of the vinegar solution is reliant on a few different variables. Particularly how deep-rooted the buttercups are, as well as the volume in which they exist. 

With this in mind, keep reading. That way, you’ll ensure you get the concentration right, and it will be as effective as you would have hoped.

How To Make A Vinegar-Based Solution To Kill Buttercups 

By adhering to the below method and list of ingredients, you can be confident that you can significantly diminish the number of buttercups in your vicinity. 

What You Will Need

  • Vinegar – Any household vinegar will work. Both white vinegar and apple cider are effective. 
  • Water.
  • Salt.
  • A Spray Bottle for dispensing the solution. 

How To Make Your Vinegar Buttercup Killer

The vinegar solution you’ll need is, fortunately, an uncomplicated one. 

Simply mix together one part vinegar, one part water, and salt. For every gallon of vinegar used, you’ll need one cup of table salt. 

The solution is so easy to make that even if you run out whilst partway through the job, you can rest assured that it won’t take long to whip it back up, and you’ll be back, killing those buttercups in no time!  

How To Safely Use Vinegar To Kill Buttercups

In the literal sense, using vinegar safely is easy to do, given that the solution is a non-toxic one. However, the potential risks come at the expense of the surrounding greenery in your garden, as opposed to your own health.

Hence, do read on to learn how to best apply the vinegar, as we’re sure the last thing you’d want to do is damage your beloved plants in the process! 

Prepare The Solution

The first step is to prepare the vinegar solution. Simply mix the ingredients together. 

Add To A Spray Bottle

For dispensing ease, I recommend doing so in a spray bottle. 

Ideally, your spray bottle will have an adjustable nozzle so that you can determine the most appropriate setting to adopt, in line with the volume of buttercups you’re working with. 


Next, spray away! 

Apply the solution generously to the buttercups. 

Avoid your other plants, and as much as you can, try to aim for the buttercups themselves rather than the surrounding grass. 

However, I appreciate that avoiding every single blade of grass simply isn’t realistic. 

But don’t fret! 

Fortunately, rather than damaging new grass, vinegar is more likely to affect grass that is older than two weeks old. 

Plus, even if the grass does get damaged in the process, its roots, which can vary in length between six inches and two feet, are likely to escape unscathed, and new healthy blades will shoot up in no time! 

Avoid The Mist Setting

Another tip is to avoid using the spray bottle’s mist setting. 

The generic spray settings will help you to aim better, and as well as protecting your plants and grass, it’s fundamental that you avoid the soil too. 

The reason is that when soil encounters vinegar, its pH begins to alter, which in turn depletes it of its nutrients. 

Resultantly, this has a knock-on effect on any plants that said soil is home to.

How Long Does Vinegar Take To Kill Buttercups

It is likely to take no longer than 24 hours to see buttercups dwindle and dry out once sprayed with vinegar.

Other Ways To Kill Buttercups 

Whilst vinegar can be relied on to kill the buttercups, it does so at a fairly superficial level, i.e., in most cases, it fails to significantly affect the roots and seeds of the weed. 

Hence, it is likely that the buttercups will regrow at some point, and when they do, you’ll need to take action once again. 

The vinegar approach is more of control rather than a future-proof solution. 

Whilst this may be sufficient for some, we appreciate that others may be interested in looking into other methods. 

For ease, we’ve shared a couple of these below. 

Off The Shelf Herbicides

If you pop into your local DIY or gardening store, you’ll come across a great deal of choice as far as weed killers go. 

The best one to opt for is one that contains MCPA, the active ingredient that is renowned for being the most effective on buttercups. 

This is the one to get from Amazon.

When applied over infested areas as per the instructions and timeframes stated on the respective bottle, the weed killers will effectively kill the buttercups. 

However, it’s worth noting that, much like vinegar, it’s not a sure thing that the buttercups will be permanently terminated. 

Rather, the effectiveness of the solution is dependent on its ability to affect the buttercups seedlings and roots, which given the importance of soil avoidance during the application, is relatively unlikely. 

Additionally, this method is toxic, so you’ll want to ensure that your pets and children are kept well away from it. 

In fact, non-toxicity is one of the key reasons why many opt to use vinegar instead. 

The Natural Approach

Rather than topical applications, many prefer to take a more hands-on approach to their buttercups. 

Unfortunately, buttercups are so low level that moving the lawn won’t affect them. 

Hence, hand pulling prevails. 

Hand-Weeding Tool

And there’s no harm in enlisting a handy little tool to help you out, so why not purchase one of the many hand-weeding tools available. 

There are several great options on Amazon.

Even if you do opt for a tool, we still recommend that you wear gloves; buttercup sap is no friend of our skin and can cause pretty severe irritation upon contact. 

Fertilizing The Soil

More holistically speaking, altering soil conditions has been known to prevent buttercup growth. 

Buttercups thrive in low nutrient and low pH environments.

By keeping your soil healthy, making it more acidic, and fertilizing it, you may just be able to control buttercups permanently! 

Whilst both of these approaches are undoubtedly more laborious than spraying a solution over the weeds, many prefer them for their innate environmental friendliness, as well as their potential for longer-lasting results. 

How effective is vinegar at protecting your garden? Find out in my following guides: