Beautied Weed: Decorating with Bull Thistle



On the California coast, summer means the hillsides turn golden brown, it’s hot and dry or foggy and cool, and the likelihood of rain is slim to none. In Missouri, pretty much the opposite occurs. Summers are met with storm showers, humidity like a sauna, green landscapes and lots and lots of cicadas. Right after Labor Day, however, a switch is flipped. The cicadas quiet down, the leaves start to turn yellow, and the air has the crispness of fall.

What once was vibrant green, is dull and brown, and the bull thistles are no exception! I was on a walk the other day and looked out at a whole field of them. They get tall with the Midwest rains, and while their purple flowers are beautiful to look at, they are considered a weed. California has them too, (or a cousin of them) and I remember seeing them line the side of Horse Hill, a piece of land where we used to keep our horse. I decided to get crafty so I  took some of those bull thistles home, painted them and put them in a vase. They have to be the easiest “flowers” to keep, besides the fake ones. They don’t need any water and with a little spray paint, their color won’t ever fade! I used gold for mine, but you can use any color you’d like.

If you feel like decorating your house with weeds too, here’s how to do it:

You need:

  • scissors or hedge clippers
  • gloves
  • cardboard or newspaper
  • spray paint (I used ACE Metallic Spray Paint)
  • vase
  • 5-10 dried bull thistles




  • use the scissors or clippers to cut the bull thistles, about 12-18 inches tall. You can always trim them shorter later  (wear gloves!)
  • shake the seeds out of the thistles as much as you can before putting them in a bag or box. You won’t be able to get rid of them all, but this will save you some cleanup
  • lay down some newspaper or cardboard on the floor or a surface. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area
  • holding the end of the stem, spray each thistle until a good coating of paint is on the whole thing.
  • lay back down on the newspaper to dry (about 1 hour is good)
  • place in a vase and enjoy! (more seeds will probably come out at this point so be prepared!)





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