You are currently viewing The Horror of Bindweed!

By Lynda Scandrett, Master Gardener In-Training, SCMG

 

FIELD BINDWEED (Convolvulus arvensis) 

We see it more and more; it grows out of nowhere to overtake our lawns, flower gardens and fields. It is so prolific that it is known by many names: Creeping Jenny, European Bindweed, and Small Flowered Morning Glory are just a few.  It is a non-native, invasive, noxious weed and we can’t get rid of it. 

 Or can we?  With some knowledge and patience, you can get rid of Field Bindweed.  First, we need to know what motivates the growing Field Bindweed. 

 IDENTIFYING FIELD BINDWEED  

 You can recognize Field Bindweed by its long heart shape leaves that are 7.5cm long by 3cm wide with a notched base.  The stem is smooth with fine hairs. The small morning glory looking flowers can be white, pink, or pinkish-white.  It is very difficult to see the 3mm pear shaped grey/brown bumpy seeds, and seeds are many.   But, often for many, it is the telltale climbing and winding 15 foot stem that works it way along paths, through lawns and curls it way up our flowers, trees and other structures to get to the sunlight.   

Field Bindweed growing on my fence.  (Please, pay no attention to the “Field of Weeds” behind the fence).  You can see the long egg shape of the leaves with the notch at the end. 

 

 

HOW IT GROWS 

 

The Field Bindweed is a master at growth.  It will regrow from its extensive root system.  Vertical roots can extend up to 20 feet down but most of the root system, up to 70%, appears in the horizontal roots in the first 2 feet of soil.  The roots hold carbohydrates and protein for the Field Bindweed to grow.  Birds spread seeds by carrying the Field Bindweed fruit and dispersing them along their flights.  The seed can remain viable for 20-60 years allowing the Field Bindweed to not only travel but also wait to strike, or grow, when the conditions are right. 

 

University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources  Homes, Garden, Landscapes, and Turf 

 

Field Bindweed will germinate when soil temperatures are warm, in Ontario that is late spring to early summer. 

 THE DESTRUCTION 

 The Ecological Impact of Field Bindweed is horrifying.  Field Bindweed will smother and topple any flower or crop to get up to the top for sunshine choking cultivated plants in the process.  Field Bindweed will compete with gardens and native pollinators for sunlight, moisture and nutrients killing them in the process.  Not only is Field Bindweed mildly toxic to grazing animals, it will dimish food sources and affect cover habitat for local wildlife. 

 

 

You can see the Field Bindweed coming down from the fence  

and up from the ground to crawl on my peony.  If left, the  

Field Bindweed could strangle and choke out the peony potentially 

 killing it by using up the moisture and nutrients and toppling the plant. 

 

YOU CAN GET RID OF THIS MONSTER 

 So, how do we rid ourselves of this unwanted guest?   

We need to Prevent, Reduce and Repeat. 

 

Field Bindweed growing under the fence and  

between the “new still preparing” raised garden  

and cedar fence.  This will be cut at ground level and  

monitored for any new growth. 

 

 

Prevent:  Ensure that when you plant native plants (or any plant) that there is no Field Bindweed roots incorporated in your new plants.  Give your new plants a good root bath and remove any Field Bindweeds.  Any Field Bindweed, stem or flower, you find you should promptly place in a black garbage bag and leave in the sun to die. 

 

Reduce: When you find Field Bindweed, and where there is one there is many, reduce the size of the plant and remove any flowers to prevent from going to seed.  Cut the plant at ground level.  Place any cut Field Bindweed (flowers and stems) in a black garbage bag and allow to sit in the sun to die.  There is no Biological Control known and the root system is resistant to herbicides.  Some say that painting the leaves with a Glyphosate solution (Roundup) will help kill the plant, as the glyphosate will be taken into the root system.  I, personally, do not like using chemicals as a defense as the ecological implication are widely debated at this time.   You can also populate areas recently cleared of Field Bindweed with native plants to provide shade and reduce the opportunity for Field Bindweed to grow.  

 

Repeat:  As we know Field Bindweed has very extensive above and below ground systems, and, because it is such a strong survivor, we know that it will take a lot of patience to reduce the Field Bindweed.  Continuing to cut at ground level and removing the flowers, before going to seed, will prevent the Field Bindweed from being able to photosynthesize energy.  Repeating this, over years, can reduce the occurrences of Field Bindweed. 

 

 

Resources:

 

https://www.ontario.ca/document/weed-identification-guide-ontario-crops/field-bindweed#section-1 

https://www.thespruce.com/controlling-and-preventing-bindweed-2540090#:~:text=Don’t%20bother%20pulling%20it,get%20all%20the%20roots%20out  

https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7462.html#:~:text=Field%20bindweed%20is%20a%20hardy,to%20depths%20of%2014%20feet. 

https://www.ontario.ca/document/weed-identification-guide-ontario- 

https://keys.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/eafrinet/weeds/key/weeds/Media/Html/Convolvulus_arvensis_(Field_Bindweed).htm