by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener
Many a gardener has had the displeasure of trying to rid their garden of a frustrating weed called bindweed. Some people call it creeping Jenny or wild morning glory because, well, it looks like morning glory. It can be rather difficult to control or even get rid of, but with some time and patience it can be done.
Bindweed is a perennial climber that will wrap its’ thin, thread-like vines tightly around other plants that are growing in an upright manner or any other upward object. The leaves are shaped like an arrowhead and the flowers are trumpet shaped and either white or pink. It reproduces via seeds and rhizomes.
Part of the reason it is so hard to get rid of bindweed is that its root system is large, deep and hardy. Let me
tell you those are certainly two words describing a root system that any gardener does not want to hear when it comes to a weed that is taking over their flower beds.
It is going to take more than one attempt to rid your garden of this weed and there are a few options you have to choose from.
An organic method is to keep an eye on the plant and prune it back to the ground each time it begins to grow. This method forces the plant to use up the energy reservoirs in its roots and will eventually kill it.
A chemical application of an herbicide may need to be repeated several times to kill bindweed. If spraying is not an option (because of drifting to nearby plants), I would recommend a method I use with much success. I call it the “massage of death”. Place a heavy rubber glove on your hand, then place a cloth glove (I like to use those dark brown work gloves) over the rubber glove and dip the fingertips of the gloved hand into the herbicide. Being careful not to drip onto desirable plants, give the bindweed a gentle massage. The gloves I use for this method are dedicated to this application. I allow the glove to dry, then place it in a marked zip lock bag for future use. Always read and follow label instructions when using chemicals.
Landscape fabric and/or a thick cover of mulch will help to keep the weeds and seeds from seeing the light of day. It may take three to five years of suppression for the bindweed to be killed with this method. Be patient and vigilant!
As always, Happy Gardening!
More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.
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