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Bindweed: Controlling Bindweed

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Bindweed wraps itself around the stems and branches of plants, such as this lavender.

Bindweed wraps itself around the stems and branches of plants, such as this lavender.

Colleen Vanderlinden

Weed Name:

Bindweed. Botanical name: Convolvus arvensis

Identification:

Bindweed is a vining plant that snakes its way across the ground and over fences, plants, or any other stationary thing in its path. It has medium-green arrow shaped leaves, and pinkish flowers that look like those of morning glories. Bindweed can grow four feet or more in length, and has deep, strong roots.

Life Cycle and Reproduction:

Bindweed grows from both seeds and roots. The seeds remain viable for up to 30 years in the soil. This is not a plant that you want to allow to set seed. If you have bindweed, be sure to get rid of it before it flowers and sets seed. However, bindweed grows easily from underground roots and rhizomes, and this is typically why you'll see bindweed popping up even if you've never let it go to seed. Even a tiny section of root in the soil is enough to allow bindweed to grow.

How to Get Rid of Bindweed:

Vigilance and persistence are the two most useful weapons in your arsenal against bindweed. Watch for signs of this vine, and remove it as quickly as possible. The best way to get rid of bindweed is to cut it off at soil level. Don't bother pulling it up; it will just sprout wherever you tore the roots (and you will. It's impossible to get all of the roots out.) By continually cutting it off at ground level, and doing it as soon as you possibly can, you will eventually starve the plant (since it will be unable to photosynthesize) and it will die. Be patient! You will have to do this several times, but it will work.

How to Prevent Bindweed:

Bindweed thrives in open, cultivated ground and soil that is rich in nitrogen, such as what is found in gardens and farms. Since we can't change that, and we can't stop seeds that have been waiting in the soil from germinating, all we can do is deal with bindweed when we see it.

Uses for Bindweed:

Believe it or not, even this garden villain has a few uses. You can use pieces of bindweed as ties in place of twine when tying and staking plants. The flowers (which are actually very pretty) attract beneficial insects, and exude a soft fragrance. The leaves and stems can be used to make an all-natural dye, and there are also accounts of the roots being brewed as a tea to relieve constipation.
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