En Español

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

How to get rid of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)
July 28, 2008 - We have an enormous stand of japanese polygonum that we are trying to get rid of. What soil type is the most inhospitable to this aggressive and highly invasive species? Were thinking of planting so...
view the full question and answer

How to eradicate chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata)
February 10, 2008 - How do I get rid of a invasive ground covering plant called Camelion without hurting the ground so I can plant something else?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Invasive Plants
March 26, 2004 - How many plants are invasive?
view the full question and answer

Information on non-native, invasive pampas grass
February 12, 2004 - Our neighborhood is doing a community landscaping project and pampas grass has been suggested. Is there a good article related to invasives that specifically mention pampas grass?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on vitex
May 12, 2005 - I recently purchased a vitex tree and I don't know anything about it other that it blooms. Can you tell me everything there is about this tree?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center