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

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

Eliminating gift plant from flowerbed
June 20, 2010 - A neighbor gave me cuttings of a lush green plant with a blue flower with a yellow center that is only open in morning. It has become very invasive. I cut it back and dug at least 6-12" deep to get t...
view the full question and answer

Invasive non-native mulberry and groundcover in Jacksonville FL
October 02, 2011 - Northeast Florida (Jacksonville) inland. My mulberry tree provides dense shade in the summer and filtered light the other seasons, leaving sand in its growing area. What fast growing ground cover woul...
view the full question and answer

Invasive horsetail in Etna NH
July 27, 2009 - I seem to have an increasingly "healthy" supply of Equisetum in ALL of my many gardens over the years .. it is not easy to get all the rhizomes (what is?) is it possible to control it some other way...
view the full question and answer

Removal of non-native invasive Ligustrum japonica from Austin
February 14, 2012 - I bought a house that I am slowly turning into a native garden, but as a teacher, I have a really small budget. One entire border of my backyard (30 feet) was planted with evil Ligustrum japonica. I l...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, Cuscuta sp., Dodder
August 18, 2009 - A neighbor of mine has a vine with no leaves that is attaching itself to her flowering plants. It is yellow in color, just larger than fishing line and has no leaves. It corkscrews itself around the p...
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