En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - July 07, 2008

From: St. Matthews, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Vines
Title: Invasive vines in azaleas in South Carolina
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have saw briars and wild jasmine, and cow itch vine that has invaded my azaleas, and would like your input on how to get rid of them without completely destroying my azaleas. Thanks

ANSWER:

You have a real problem, and no mistake. These are all native vines, all pretty aggressive and all are going to be difficult to remove.

Smilax bona-nox (saw greenbrier) - difficult to eradicate because of its underground rhizomes, making it very resistant to herbicides.

Gelsemium sempervirens (evening trumpetflower) - also called yellow jasmine. All parts are poisonous.

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) - also sometimes called "cow-itch vine"

Getting undesirable vines out of desirable plants is a huge challenge. You don't dare spray a herbicide because it would take down the azaleas, probably faster than the vines. If you try to pull out the vines, it will result in damaging the azaleas, pulling off leaves and flowers. Likely your only chance is perseverence and stubborness. With gloves on, begin to clip off the vines wherever you can get at them. Clip them into small enough pieces that they can be unwound without unnecessary violence to the plants you are trying to save. Keep working back to close to the soil, and then try to work the root or rhizome out of the ground, again without damaging azalea roots. You can, of course, start by cutting every vine stalk as close to the root as you can get, and then waiting for a while until the vines without roots start to turn brown, making them a little easier to find, identify and remove. You can also try painting that cut root surface with an herbicide, using a disposable foam brush. If and when you get the bed cleaned out, you will have to be constantly vigilant. All of these vines are very persistent and they will come back from underground roots, rhizomes and seeds. It's much easier to pull them out when they're very young than after they grow up-but you already know that. And dispose of the cuttings in such a way that seeds will not have a chance to resprout.

 

From the Image Gallery


Saw greenbrier
Smilax bona-nox

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

More Vines Questions

Growing Grapes in Southern Texas on an Arbor
July 02, 2014 - I've redirected several grape vines (from the top third of a broken oak tree) onto an arbor. The base of the vine is about 3 or 4 inches in diameter. Is it feasible to work with (prune) the smaller b...
view the full question and answer

Vine for arbor in Eugene, OR
May 01, 2009 - We have an arbor that is partial shade and stays fairly wet and want to plant a climbing plant on it with shallow roots, preferably with flowers. We had a wisteria but got roots and shooters everywher...
view the full question and answer

How to prune wild mustang grape vines.
July 11, 2011 - Now that my mustang grapes are harvested. When can I trim them out of the tree top and redirect them to an arbor where I can reach them next year? The main vine is at least 3" across. The vines from...
view the full question and answer

Rash resulting from cutting trees in NC.
May 08, 2012 - My boyfriend was cutting some trees yesterday. He had thorns in his hands after he was done, and today he has a rash on his legs, a fever and he feels like throwing up. Can you tell me if its symptoms...
view the full question and answer

Non-toxic plants for dog yard from Freeport PA
June 24, 2012 - I'm looking for wildlife-friendly native plants that aren't toxic to dogs. I have a place for some small shrubs and/or flowers. And a climbing vine that I could train on a trellis would work espec...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center