Tordon RTU: Complete User Guide

Tordon is one of the best herbicides that I have found for killing hardy trees, stumps, and roots.

Before I knew about Tordon, I used Roundup to kill some unwanted trees but it had no effect.

Frustrated, I call several Arborists (people who kill trees for a living) and asked what they recommend I use to kill my trees.

They all said they used Tordon RTU.

Since then I have killed many trees using Tordon RTU and it has worked everytime.

I have only found Tordon stocked in specialty farm and ranch type stores so the best place I have found to purchase it is on Amazon.

How To Use Tordon To Kill Trees

Tordon works the best when used in the right way.

Expose the living outer ring of a tree by cutting it down or removing the bark. Apply Tordon to the outer ring or newly exposed cambium within 30 minutes of cutting. Use only enough Tordon to wet the living outer ring of the tree, avoiding any runoff.

Most Tordon bottles come with a dispenser cap similar you would see on a dish washing soap bottle.

Open the cap and carefully apply Tordon to the outer ring of the tree stump.

If you are treating a root using a paintbrush to paint it on the root would work well.

It doesn’t take a lot to kill a tree with Tordon. With one bottle of Tordon you can kill a lot of trees.

After treating the tree let it sit for several days to a week to allow time for the tree to completely die.

Is Tordon Safe?

You can never use too much caution when dealing with any type of chemical.

But every chemical has to go through rigorous testing and approved by the EPA before it can be sold on the market.

Tordon’s main active ingredient is called Picloram which has been classified as Category E – “evidence of non-carcinogenicity to humans” by the EPA. It has also been found to be “practically nontoxic” to mammals, birds, and honey bees, but slightly toxic to fish.

In the safety documentation I found they did some accidental ingestion studies and found that there was No-Observable-Adverse-Effect.

With all this being said I wouldn’t recommend putting this on your pancakes.

For any chemical I am dealing with I treat it as if it is extremely toxic. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be a guinea pig.

When I kill trees with Tordon I always wear a long sleeve shirt and pants. Also, I wear safety goggles, a face mask, and most importantly chemical resistant gloves.

Is Tordon Safe for Horses, Dogs, and Pets?

It is one thing for a human but what if my dog or horse goes and licks it? This is what I found in the safety literature on Tordon.

Tordon only effects plants. It disrupts the growth process by affecting enzymes unique to plants. The EPA requires extensive animal testing to ensure there are no unintended effects. Tordon was found to have no negative effect on animals but is slightly toxic for fish.

I would make sure that while you are treating with Tordon to keep any horses, dogs or pets away from the area until it is dry.

Even thought it is considered piratically non-toxic to humans and animals I wouldn’t take any chances.

Fish on the other hand may be affected. So if you have a koi pond nearby I would make sure you are very careful to not get any in the water.

How Long Does It Take For Tordon To Kill A Tree?

The reason Tordon is one of the best tree killers is because of how quickly it kills trees.

After treating a tree with Tordon the tree should be completely dead within one week to 30 days. After a few days, Tordon should have affected the tree enough to remove the stump or root.

If you are treating a tree with Tordon without cutting it down it may take longer. I haven’t tested that yet.

Every time I have treated a tree with Tordon and let it sit for a few days before removing the stump I haven’t had any re-growth.

Will Tordon Kill Surrounding Trees?

Most of the time I’m killing an unwanted tree it is growing next to other plants and trees that I don’t want to die.

Tordon will only kill any tree or plant that has been directly treated. It won’t affect other trees or plants around it. The only time Tordon will kill surrounding trees is if they share common roots like Aspens, Poplars, and Cottonwoods.

I have personally killed a elm tree growing right next to another tree that I didn’t want to die and only tree that I treated died.

I was very careful however to not allow any spilling or run off of Tordon and only let the top of the tree stump get Tordon on it.

If I wouldn’t have been careful and spilled some Tordon on the other tree root or leaves it may have died. So be careful but you should be fine.

Where you need to be careful is for trees that send up shoots as child trees.

Even though Aspens look like many trees they are actually only one tree.

Cottonwoods, Poplars, and Elm trees will send up saplings that are connected by the roots.

If you treat a tree with Tordon that is a shoot-off of the parent tree, then the parent tree and child tree will die.

Does Tordon work in the Winter or Spring?

Since trees go dormant in the winter you would think that they would be unaffected by treating them with Tordon.

Tordon will kill a tree in the Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall if applied to the cambium layer that is freshly cut. If properly treated Tordon RTU will effectively kill any tree at any time of the year.

My neighbor had a tree removal expert come out in the early spring to kill and remove some large elm trees and he used Tordon to treat it once it was down to a stump and the tree never came back.

Will Tordon Kill Palm Trees?

I haven’t found a tree or plant that wont die if treated correctly with Tordon.

Tordon will kill palm trees, however, most palm trees will die by simply cutting them down to a stump without the need of a tree killer like Tordon. To ensure your palm tree is dead you can treat the top of the stump with Tordon.

Once the top is cut off of a palm tree it has no ability to grow back.

Most of the time if palm trees are growing back it is from seeds that have dropped to the ground.

Remove the seeds and no palm trees won’t grow back.

Will Tordon Kill Bamboo?

Bamboo is a fun plant to grow in your yard but it can quickly take it over.

Before it gets out of control you will need a good way to kill it.

Tordon will kill bamboo if treated properly. Cut the bamboo a few inches from the ground and paint the tops with Tordon. This will completely kill the roots and all so it will not continue to grow.

Some of the active ingredients of Tordon was used in Agent Orange in the Vietnam war as a way to kill the brush and jungle.

It is really good at killing trees and brush including bamboo.


Tordon is a very effective woody tree and brush killer. Proper care and safety should be taken when using it.

I have tested many ways to kill trees and Tordon is by far the most reliable way to kill trees and woody plants.

Just remember that there are many trees that don’t need to be treated at all to die. Simply cutting them down will sufficiently kill them.