How to Get Rid of Bindweed
This is one weed that can kill your flowers and vegetables. Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) also known as wild morning glory grows as a vine and will climb up your plants and strangle them. Bindweed starts in a small clump by itself and in a short time it will start growing in vines along the ground and up anything it encounters. You will notice these with their small white or white with pink flowers. I have seen it climb and grow so vigorously to where it has broken plant stalks, taken down plants and caused fences to lean.
The roots of bindweed can be as long as 40 feet. They can get water from your neighbors yard. The seeds of this weed can live in the soil for many years. Sometimes roto-tilling can spread bindweeds bits of roots and seeds. When you pull bindweed you will seldom get all the roots unless the plant is very new. This causes the weed to grow in many more directions from the left over root. You can get bindweed growing into your yard from your neighbors yard.
When bindweed starts in early spring, you can see it as it grows along the ground in vines. You will have to dig it out roots and all right there. Any time after this you will never get all of the roots and it will continue to grow back. You can kill this weed naturally over time by continually cutting the vines and making sure the flowers are always cut or hoed as soon as you see them. By this continual cutting of the vines and weed as much as you can, it will eventually lose its ability to gather nutrients and die. Though it might be just a matter of time before more roots and seeds find there way into your yard.
Bindweed with flowers in the grass. Photo by Frank Vincentz/wikimedia
There are some homemade sprays using alcohol, vinegar, garlic and peppers that could work to kill this. But this plant is one tough weed to get rid of and sometimes you just can’t get rid of it using natural methods. Short of calling the Air Force and asking for an air strike you might want to think about using an all purpose plant killer such as Roundup. This product doesn’t damage the soil but kills the plant right down through the root. The best time to spray the weed is in the fall before the first freeze when the weed is storing up nutrients for the winter and the Roundup will then go into the root system. Roundup kills everything so be carefull with it.
If you didn’t spray the previous fall the second best time to spray bindweed is in early spring as the weed starts and before you plant your garden and anywhere else you see it coming up. It has been my experience that this is one of the first weeds to start growing in the early spring. During the growing season if you see more bindweed in your garden, you can use this roundup carefully. If the bindweed is close to your plants, use rubber gloves and a small sponge or paint brush, spray the Roundup on the sponge and carefully wipe it on the bindweed without touching your flowers and vegetables. You will notice the bindweed turning brown in about a week. Roundup kills the bindweed by allowing the weed to absorb the poison into its root system through its growing vine as it does any nutrient. So make sure you get it on the leaves of the vine, but not to the point of running off.
If you see this bindweed climbing up your tomato plant for example, don’t try and pull or rip it since you could also break your tomato or other plant stalks. Try and find the bindweed at the base of your plant and break the bindweed vine right there. Then you could try and unwind it from your plant or leave it and the remaining vine will die that way hopefully before strangling your plant.
Bindweed in evergreens and evergreen bushes can be especially hard to deal with. The best way is to trace the vine back down to the bindweed plant itself and cut the vine right there. There might be several different bindweed plants as their vines can grow all over the place. When you find the actual plant use the Roundup again using the above method of wiping or painting it on the weed itself.
Another product that works great to kill bindweed is Ortho Weed-B-Gone Max. You have to be careful with it when using it near other plants because it will also kill them. If you have bindweed in your lawn, this product is great to get rid of the bindweed without harming your lawn. You can use the spot spray Ortho Weed-B-Gone Max or a sprayer and spray the entire lawn.
Besides Roundup, other herbicides include Trimec, Tordon-K and products containing 2-4-D. Remember that some of these products will also kill everything else, so be careful when applying the weed killer. Use a brush or a sponge to wipe the poison on. If you are going to spray it on, do it when it is calm. You can also use a cardboard box or buckets to protect nearby plants when you spot spray.
One other note, when you dig, pull or cut the bindweed and its vines, do not throw them into your compost pile. Put them in your trash bin as these things can start growing even if you drop one on your lawn.
Good luck and may the force be with you because this is one tough weed.
© 2009 Sam Montana
Main article photo by Frank Vincentz/wikimedia.com