En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Getting rid of Japanese bindweed in Massachusetts

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

Wednesday - February 04, 2009

From: Monterey, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Problem Plants
Title: Getting rid of Japanese bindweed in Massachusetts
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do you get rid of Japanese Bindweed (mile-a-minute)?

ANSWER:

Calystegia hederacea (Japanese bindweed) is actually native to China. This is another one of those classic stories of an accidentally introduced non-native plant which becomes invasive and difficult to get rid of. It is a member of the Convolvulaceae (morning glory) family. Get some background on this plant from the Ohio State University Extension website Calystegia hederacea. This source states that the primary means of reproduction of this plant seems to be by spreading perennial roots. Apparently this is a big problem in Ohio, because this Columbus Dispatch online article, Tug of War, deals at length with the problems in getting rid of members of the Convolvulus family.

About the only way to deal with it, and there is no easy way, is to starve it to death. It protects itself against destruction by its deep roots, in which food is stored to nourish the plant and keep it spreading. Because of these deep roots, just spraying with a herbicide really isn't effective, the herbicide may damage some leaves but won't get down to the root (sorry!) of the problem. Persistence in just pulling off and pulling up every little beginner plant that comes up will certainly be a step in the right direction, and Spring is the time to do it, because the roots have been supporting the plant all Winter while the leaves were dormant and are low on nutrients. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends neither for nor against the use of herbicides or pesticides, but this may be a time when you have to resort to tough measures. Do not spray the herbicide, it can easily drift onto more desirable plants and do them more damage that it does the bindweed. It can also contaminate the soil and wash away in rainwater to contaminate nearby water sources. Instead, get a small disposable paintbrush, cut a plant down as close to the root as you can get, and quickly, within 5 minutes, paint the stub with the herbicide.  This permits the herbicide to get into the system of the plant before it heals over, and down to the real problem, the roots. As we said, there is no easy way to eliminate this pest, nor is it a quick process. It no doubt got into your garden from somewhere else in your neighborhood, and it will be back, even if you manage to destroy the roots already there. Keep after it, check the area all the time, and don't let it get ahead of you and shade out valuable, more desirable plants. 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

My plants are choking.
September 01, 2008 - I have a trailing weed that is choking the other plants in my garden. It grows super fast and it has small white flowers. The flower looks a bit like a mini morning glory. I have tried pulling it as m...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of Grape Kool Aid Plant in California
August 03, 2008 - I have a Grape Kool Aid plant and was told it would grow to 6 or 7 feet tall, but it is well over that and I need to know if I can prune it and if so how?
view the full question and answer

Damage to ruellia in Monroe LA
October 26, 2009 - I have hundreds of Ruellia Brittoniana. Dwarf Katie White, Katie Blue and Katie Pink. I am finding holes in some of the leaves, Some just have notches chewed out of them. Some of the leaves have...
view the full question and answer

Differences between Lantana urticoides and Lantana camara
July 13, 2012 - I have found an orange variety of lantana growning in several location in Jefferson County. Is there any way I can tell for sure if it is L. camara or the native L. urticoides?
view the full question and answer

Removal of mature agaves
November 20, 2007 - Hello- we live in Austin, TX and have a bed of different varieties of agave. They are near the walkway to our house, and are so out of control they pose a hazard to our guests walking up to the house...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center