How to Kill Plantain (Broadleaf & Buckhorn)

You don't have to put up with the presence of this pesky weed in your lawn.

There are two types of plantain commonly found in lawns. Broadleaf plantain has egg-shaped leaves that grow low to the ground and long, narrow flower spikes. Buckhorn plantain narrow, lance-shaped leaves and stalks with bullet-like flower clusters.

How to Identify Plantain

Plantain is a common weed found in lawns. There are two types of plantain commonly found in lawns - broadleaf, or common, plantain (Plantago major) and buckhorn, or narrow-leaved, plantain (Plantago lanceolata). 

Both perennial weeds with short, thick tap roots and leaves that grow in a rosette. Plantain prefers full sun, but can also grow in some shade. They are tolerant of both wet and dry soils. 

Broadleaf plantain has dark green, egg-shaped leaves that grow low to the ground. The leaves are usually smooth with wavy edges, 3-7 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, and have 3-5 clearly defined parallel veins. Flowers are produced on long narrow spikes, and a healthy plant can produce 14,000 seeds per years. The seeds can remain viable in the soil for 60+ years. Broadleaf plantain thrives in compacted soil with heavy traffic. 

Buckhorn plantain has dark green, narrow, lance-shaped leaves that are 3-10 inches long and less than 1 inch wide. The leaves have very prominent veins. The flower stalks can be 12-18 inches tall, and the tightly clustered flowers, which resemble a bullet, form at the end of the long stalk. Buckhorn plantain is not able to withstand traffic as well as broadleaf plantain.

How to Kill Plantain and Keep It From Coming Back

  • Kill plantain and other weeds in your lawn with fast-acting Ortho® WeedClear™ Lawn Weed Killer, which wipes out unwanted weeds without harming the grass you love. For landscapes and hardscapes, control plantain by treating it with Ortho® GroundClear® Super Weed & Grass Killer, which starts working right away. You'll quickly see weeds begin to fade, but the real magic is happening below the ground: When used as directed, this spray formula works deeply, reaching weeds at their roots to kill them—and, importantly—keep them from coming back.
  • Regular feedings of your lawn (2 to 4 times per year) is the best way to give your lawn the nutrients it needs to grow thick and strong and help crowd out weeds. 
  • Mowing at a height best for your lawn allows the grass to grow thick and develop a deep root system. If you use a mulching mower, leave grass clippings on the round to recycle nutrients back into the soil. 
  • Your lawn will begin to wilt when water is needed. Rely on the rain as much as you can to water your lawn and only supplement when you need to. Most lawns only need about an inch of water per week, after all. If you do use sprinklers, program them to water the lawn deeply and infrequently.