Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Non-native eleagnus from Jesup GA
January 17, 2014 - An elderly farmer has told me about a plant called Alley Agnes, but I can't find any plant by this name anywhere. He doesn't know another name for it, says it's what everyone has always called it i...
view the full question and answer

Removing invasive Dichelostemma firecracker plant from Austin
April 12, 2012 - We have dichelostemma firecracker plant & cannot kill it. We need help in getting rid of this plant. Spent another 3 hours digging up corms this afternoon. It is invading our backyard & want it kil...
view the full question and answer

List of North American plants grown in other countries
August 17, 2008 - I am working on a childrens story and would like to let the teachers who read this book know where some of the native plants in my book grow throughout the world, or if they grow outside of the USA. p...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating ragweed in Sacramento CA
May 16, 2012 - Rag weed. How to be rid of it! My wife and lots of others that live in this part of Sacramento suffer greatly.
view the full question and answer

Plants for delineating property line
July 18, 2010 - I have a neighbor who does not mow his grass or take care of a strip that runs between my property and his. I would like to plant some inexpensive, low maintenance, shrubs, that would do well in full...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.