If it’s Spring it Must be Time to Start Pulling Bindweed Again


Those lovely delicate flowers are extremely deceptive because there is nothing delicate about bindweed.  It is a horrible pest and I usually get sick of pulling it every day by August and just let it go, which no doubt compounds my problems with it. 

I once sat through an hour long and very boring gardening show on the TeeVee because they kept tantalizing me with an upcoming segment that was going to give us the seekrit and fail-proof method of getting rid of bindweed.  And their secret was (TA DA) PULL IT!!  I kid you not.

Then a friend of mine once spent the whole day carefully painting each strand of bindweed in her perennial bed with weed killer then slipping a plastic baggie over it and securing it with a twist tie.  And it worked!  All the bindweed died!  For about, oh, a month or so.  And then it sprang from the earth as good as new.  Bindweed is truly the honey badger of the plant world.

If you’ve got any ideas for getting rid of the stuff please share in comments.  Otherwise consider this an open thread.

Posted by marindenver on 04/28/12 at 03:29 PM • Permalink

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I think it is bindweed that we pull here, at the point that it has turned into seed pods. I basically pull every pod I see, wherever I see them, seal them into a baggie and throw them out. It may be doing no good, but it keeps me busy.

If you’ve got any ideas for getting rid of the stuff please share in comments.

I have a secret and fail-proof method. It also works on quackgrass.

I have a ton of this shit in my yard, and nothing I’ve ever done other than pulling it has ever worked. I’ve heard people say that if you spray it with weed killer just before it curls up for the winter that that will kill it off, but I haven’t managed it.

It’s scary stuff. I have a little scrawny peach tree in my side yard and the bindweed came for it in a terrifying way - poking up out of the grass a foot away from the trunk and forming this free-standing leafy tentacle reaching for it. It looked like *that* kind of anime in super-duper-slo-mo.

This may be of no help - we don’t have bindweed here (Northern IL), but we do have Creeping Charlie.

The suggested remedy is borax. The downside is that borax essentially poisons everything it comes in contact with. Not a solution.

So, like you, I pull the stuff all spring and summer.

Comment by Tracy on 04/28/12 at 06:08 PM

There are lot of exotics that don’t have natural biological controls.  Here in MD, we have garlic mustard, which you would think would be nice but it is very aggressive especially if you are tryig to keep a native plants environment.  So, yup, gotta yang it up by the roots. But it composts well.

I have a secret and fail-proof method. It also works on quackgrass.


(you bastid!)

@Xecky - I’ve come to the conclusion that pulling it just makes it mad.

Many years ago I worked for a xeriscape landscape designer/installer for a few summers when geology was sucking extra badly, and he did the “careful painting with RoundUp” thing.  However, his experience was that you had to keep after it all summer long, and do it on bright, sunny days so more of the active ingredient would get down further into the roots.  Bindweed has really, really long roots so it takes several applications spaced close enough to not let it recover in between applications. 

Last summer I did a favor for a friend who had bindweed in her huge, gorgeous expanses of hardy ice plant.  I laid newspaper about each strand (the very definition of tedious), and then first put on a plastic glove and then a cotton glove over it so I could saturate the cotton glove and give the lingering Fondle O’ Death to every leaf.  I did it 3 times over the summer; there were small areas of collateral damage but the ice plant grew back quickly, and the bindweed was knocked down to 1/10 of it’s prior vigor.  We needed to do 2 more applications but family emergencies made it a low priority.  We’ll kill that nasty crap for good this year though.

trade ya, we have monster native blackberry vines.
Dealing with them gets freaking bloody.

Bindweed?  At least you can pull bindweed.  This is goutweed.  Pretty, isn’t it?  It will smother everything in your garden and it laughs, I tell you, LAUGHS at your puny efforts to eradicate it.  It propagates by rhizomes and if you pull it, the stem will snap off in your hand while the rhizome remains underground.

Comment by MaryRC on 04/29/12 at 03:01 AM

Jim, I feel for you about the garlic mustard plant. My son worked for Americorps last year and one of their assignments was to eradicate garlic mustard plants in parks. He despised it. The next time they were sent out to eradicate “invasive species” it was buckthorn. Poor guy!  It was a never-ending battle.

I also live in MD and do battle constantly with porcelainberry. It’s so hardy and ubiquitous that it actually keeps our bindweed in check but then we have to deal with porcelainberry itself and its pals, honeysuckle and poison ivy. (They like to creep in underneath the porcelainberry vines and then twine with them.) So I don’t really have any remedies. I just wanted to vent.

I’ve come to the conclusion that pulling it just makes it mad.

Yes, but if you really really pull it, it works. It’s one of those “If you shoot at a king, you’d better kill him” things.


Comment by Steven Gregson on 04/29/12 at 10:59 AM

Steven Gregson - thanks! Nice to see what the experts have to say. Me, all I do is piss and moan and pull it as savagely as I can manage.

Pull the bindweed, that is.

Wow, I thought bindweed was bad, but some of you folks are truly cursed!

Xechy, you’ve got a lot more energy than me.  ;-) 

On a more positive note, our oldest boy is back in town for a visit with his wife (and “boy” probably isn’t the appropriate term since he’s 33) and they and all the other kids came over to wash my car (which I just haven’t had the energy to tackle) and eat take-out sushi prior to the start of my husband’s next chemo session tomorrow.  We watched “The Great Race” and just had fun. Don’t know what we’d do without family and the kids.

Plant something next to it that is even more vigorous and invasive and will kill the stuff with too much shade, mess with its chromosomes, and then reseed itself.  Grandpa Otto Morning Glory should do the trick.

you’ve got a lot more energy than me.  ;-) 

Sometimes, maybe. :) It’s unusual that I expend much energy doing yard work, but sometimes the need to go rearrange some plants hits me and I try to indulge it when it does. This year I’m being especially lazy, but the bindweed hasn’t shown its leafy little face much yet.

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