Herbicide Injury to Garden Plants

We have been receiving many photos and samples of plants that appear to have herbicide injury.  This damage can come from drift from herbicides applied to nearby lawns, landscapes, fields, or other areas; residue or carryover in materials such as grass/pasture clippings, wood chips, mulch, animal manure, soil, or compost; or improper use of a product.

If plants are damaged by herbicide, they may or may not recover, depending on the severity of the damage. All that can be done is to wait and see what happens while providing good care for the plant. 

Whether an edible plant (fruit or vegetable) is safe to eat after accidental exposure to a chemical depends on many factors. The safest course of action is to not consume any part of a plant that has been exposed to a known or unknown herbicide and to remove and replace the plants.

More detailed information on identifying herbicide injury, managing plants exposed to herbicide drift, and how to prevent herbicide injury are included in this article: Herbicide Injury to Garden Plants.  Included is also information on how to report herbicide damage and information on why testing plant material for herbicide residues has limitations.

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on August 12, 2022. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.