Tordon RTU | Powerful Herbicide for Woody Plants and Trees

If your lawn has become too long, your garden is neglected, or your property is overtaken by trees and wild plants, it can be challenging to reclaim control over them.

Regular herbicides are not that effective against shrubs, trees, and woody plants. Even cutting the trees won’t stop them from growing back. What you need is a specialty herbicide like Tordon RTU.

Tordon RTU is a ready-to-use herbicide that effectively controls and kills vegetation, woody plants, and trees. The herbicide prevents treated specimens from growing back and saves you the trouble of having to cut them again and again. It can be used on stumps and live trees as well as woody vegetation.

As with other herbicides, you’ll need to know how to use Tordon RTU safely and how to get the most out of it. Read more to find out which plants and trees to use the herbicide against.

How Does Tordon RTU Work?

As an herbicide, Tordon RTU only affects plants by disrupting their growth process. It doesn’t target animals or insects.

The active ingredients in Tordon RTU target the enzymes in the plants, preventing the plant from growing new cells that later would turn into stems and leaves. That way, the affected plants won’t have a chance to regrow.

One of those active ingredients in Tordon RTU, picloram, has the ability to make its way into the inner pathways in woody plants and trees and destroy the fibrous cells along the way.

By the time picloram has reached the roots, the tree or shrub would be dead. 

Tordon RTU Ingredients

The active ingredients in Tordon RTU take up about 26 percent of the contents of the package.

The active ingredients are:

  • Picloram: 4-amino-3,5,6-trichloropicolinic acid, triisopropanolamine salt (5.4%)
  • 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, triisopropanolamine salt (20.9%) 

What Does Tordon RTU Kill?

Tordon RTU can be used effectively against a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and woody plants that are either invasive or taking up space on your property.

These include:

  • Hickory
  • Hornbeam
  • Alder
  • Aspen
  • Birch
  • Cedar
  • Pecan
  • Cherry
  • Ailanthus
  • Dogwood
  • Elm
  • Sweet Bay
  • Gum
  • Hawthorn
  • Fir
  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Persimmon
  • Serviceberry
  • Sourwood
  • Green Ash
  • Many others

Will Tordon Kill Bamboo?

Bamboo is not a woody plant in that under the sleek veneer, the plant doesn’t have fibrous cells where picloram, the active ingredient in Tordon RTU can travel and destroy the inner structure of the plant.

The canes of bamboo are hollow, and since bamboo has deep roots, Tordon won’t be able to reach those roots and kill the plant. For these reasons, Tordon is not recommended to kill bamboo.

Will Tordon Kill Poison Ivy?

Tordon RTU can be applied to poison ivy to safely kill it without the risk of trying to cut down the creeping plant. Take the usual safety precautions when applying Tordon and later when collecting the dead poison ivy to dispose of it.

Will Tordon Kill Grass?

Tordon RTU is quite safe to use around many types of grass as most are not affected by picloram.

The nonselective herbicide can target brush weeds such as broom and gorse; however, grass likely will not be affected or stunted as a result of applying Tordon RTU.

Will Tordon Kill the Whole Tree?

Tordon RTU doesn’t just kill stumps; it can be used to kill a whole tree. When you apply the herbicide, the tree absorbs the active ingredients, which travel down its fibrous cells.

So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re applying it to a stump or a tree trunk.

The active ingredient in Tordon kills the plant cells as it passes through them until it reaches the roots of the tree. When the roots are dead, the rest of the tree will die as well.

How Long Does It Take for Tordon To Kill a Tree?

The amount of time it takes for Tordon RTU to kill a whole tree depends on the size of the tree. A young tree that hasn’t established yet could take between one and two weeks.

A mature tree with a well-developed root system could take 4 to 5 weeks or even more before all the roots are dead.

Keep in mind that the tree will continue to look very much alive even though the roots are dead or dying, but the tree foliage will deteriorate quickly once all the roots are dead.

Will Tordon Kill Surrounding Trees?

One of the advantages of using Tordon RTU is that it only affects the tree that you treat. Other trees in the vicinity will not suffer from side effects or damage.

That said, some trees tend to share common roots, so treating one tree with Tordon will allow the herbicide access to the other trees and could damage them as well. This is usually the case for such tree species as cottonwood, poplars, and aspens. 

Why Is Tordon Herbicide Blue?

Tordon RTU has a blue dye that gives it that easy-to-distinguish color. This helps you keep track of which trees and tree stumps are treated with the herbicides and which are not.

Blue is not a color to be found commonly in nature, so any blue shade on the tree trunk will stick out.

How Long Does Tordon RTU Stay in Soil?

After applying Tordon RTU to the tree, the herbicide will stay in the soil for up to 2 months before it’s fully broken down.

Bacteria and fungi in the soil will speed up the breakdown of the active ingredients in the herbicide. If the amount of Tordon in the soil is minimal, the soil could be cured within a couple of weeks.

To be on the safe side, allow up to 2 months after applying Tordon before growing plants in that spot again.

Can You Replant After Using Tordon?

Tordon is biodegradable, and the microorganisms in the soil will take care of the active ingredients on their own. You won’t need to treat the soil or flush the toxins out of it.

Once the herbicide has been broken down completely about two months after application, you can replant the area.

Is Tordon RTU Restricted?

Tordon RTU is a restricted herbicide. It has the potential to damage plants that it comes in contact with.

As such, you should be careful when applying the herbicide and take into account factors such as wind direction, rainfall, and other elements that could expose neighboring plants to the active ingredients in the herbicide.

Best Time To Apply Tordon

You can use Tordon any time you want to get rid of a tree or a tree stump. Its active ingredients are not affected by weather conditions or other factors. That said, you shouldn’t apply it when the soil is frozen.

Does Tordon Work in the Winter?

You can apply Tordon on a dormant tree in the winter. However, if the soil is frozen or covered with snow, then the active ingredients in the herbicide might not be able to travel down to the roots of the tree.

In that case, you should wait until the soil warms up before applying it.

How Long Does Tordon Need To Be on Before Rain?

Rain can dilute the herbicide or even spread it to other plants that you don’t want to kill, so you shouldn’t apply Tordon when it’s raining or immediately after heavy rainfall.

Allow the soil to absorb the rainwater first before applying Tordon. 

How To Apply Tordon To Stumps

Before applying Tordon to the tree stump, you should follow safety procedures by wearing protective gear including gloves, high boots, and eyewear.

Don’t try to spray the stump as it is not effective and might put other plants at risk. Follow these steps.

  1. Make sure the tree stump surface is clean and dry. 
  2. Remove any plants in the vicinity.
  3. Use a brush to paint about one milliliter of Tordon on the surface of the stump.
  4. Start from the edge of the bark, and cover the whole cambium area.
  5. You’ll need a few applications before the herbicide makes its way to the roots of the stump and kills them.

How To Use Tordon RTU Herbicide To Kill an Entire Tree

To use Tordon RTU to kill a whole tree, it’s best to administer the herbicide through injections. If that’s not convenient, then you can try the girdle or frill method. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Put on the usual protective gear, and make sure your arms and legs are covered.
  2. With an ax, make deep cuts in the bark all around the trunk. The cuts should overlap to create a continuous girdle.
  3. Use a brush to paint Tordon all over the girdle you just created. 
  4. After a few applications, the tree will die.


Tordon RTU is a ready-to-use, non-selective herbicide that targets woody plants and trees. Its active ingredients travel down to the roots and kill the tree from the bottom up. After about two months, the soil is ready to grow plants again.