• Featured Gardening Articles

  • Featured Recipes

  • Article Categories

  • Get Garden Help by the Month

  • more info

Managing Weeds: Morning Glory Bindweed

April 10, 2013

April showers interspersed with soil-warming blasts of spring sunshine create an ideal environment for the rise of the living dead — that ever despised perennial weed known to some as Morning Glory, Bindweed to others, and The Bitch in our garden.

And, yeah, The Bitch is back.

Bindweed in Spring

Bindweed aka Morning Glory growing along the fence line

This perennial, fast-spreading, vine weed is a tough one to eradicate. In our own garden, we do battle with it every year. And, in all honesty, I’ll say that in years past we even tried using any number of chemical methods of attack on it. Neither careful chemical techniques nor diligent mechanical methods have completely eradicated it. Several years ago we stopped the chemical attacks; they weren’t working, and that stuff is nasty, so why bother?

There’s all of one beneficial insect we’ve found that actually eats this stuff, but they aren’t big eaters. And, we’ve only sighted this bug in one garden one time, so there’s little likelihood we’ll see this weed devoured by the animal kingdom anytime soon.

Now, we kill it over and over and over again by hand. Starting now.

Here’s how:

Bindwee Roots

Remove all of the vine-like roots that travel horizontally under the soil.

Bindweed is an herbaceous, perennial grower. This means its top growth dies back for winter after sending all of the nutrients from the top into the roots in fall. During dormancy its roots stay fat, strong and growing. Then, right around the beginning of spring, it begins to send shoots up from the Earth. And, those shoots grow upward fast. They seek out anything nearby that they can then strangle with their twining stems. Plus, as those stems reach and strangle and photosynthesize in sunlight, the roots become even stronger. And the roots continue to travel underground, sending up additional top growth shoots as they grow, taking over a garden bed fast.

So, what to do?

Ideally, get out all of the roots. Even a tiny bit of root left behind will sprout anew almost instantaneously. Check out how the vine-like root looks in the photo above. It puts on length then a few hairy “hold on” roots then more length and repeat to infinity. So, if you see a shoot coming up, don’t just rip the top off. Instead, dig down and find the source root and continue to follow it in the soil to pull all of it out — or at least as much as you can. In our own garden this weed lives along the fence with our south-side renter neighbors who never do anything about it. So, the weed powers up its photosynthesizing top growth in the sun on their side of the fence while its roots flourish in the rich soil on our side. So, we pull and pull, but because it has wrapped around this constructed property line, we can never just pull it all and be done with it.

Bindweed Root Pile

Don’t leave any Bindweed roots you pull in the garden or in your home compost!

And, sadly, any bit of root you leave behind — even less than an inch of it — will eventually regrow. So, watch your garden beds carefully throughout the growing season, and put the smackdown on this bitch every time she raises her evil head. In the blink of an eye, she’ll engulf your favorite hydrangea or ribes or anything else. Once that happens, take care unwinding each bit of vine and again rooting out as much root as possible. If her roots mix in with your perennials, think long and hard before you divide and move that perennial ’cause you’ll probably be moving this crap with it.

And definitely don’t let this one bloom. Sure, it may seem like those cup-like, whitish-pinkish flowers are kind of pretty and make up for how crappy this plant is. But, if flowers happen, seeds follow. And what comes from that seed? Why another weed of course.

If you haven’t checked your known bindweed/morning glory patch yet, get out there soon. The Bitch was almost a foot tall when we saw her periscoping top growth two days ago. Now, that growth and much root material is in our yardwaste bin. Never, ever put her in your home compost or she’ll take over that as well.


  1. Susan Swain says:

    I enjoyed your article, it made me laugh out loud. I struggle with this one all summer long and no matter how hard I try I still miss a few. I cannot believe they sell this stuff in seed packets. So true once it is in your flower beds it is in your flower beds.
    Thanks for the laugh.

  2. Susan, Thanks for the comment. Sorry you have to battle this bit of ugliness. Believe it or not, there are many types of morning glory. Those seed packets contain, usually, annual varieties that are nowhere near as obnoxious as Bindweed, which sadly borrows the morning glory name. Keep up the good fight!

  3. Dawn Ryan says:

    I have battled with this “bitch” for years. I love how your article refers to it has a bitch. It made me laugh out loud. I dread getting into my flower beds each spring because it takes over everything. I get so frustrated and at times think it would be best to dig everything up and put graas seed down. I’m getting too old for this. I’ve always liked to garden but dealing with bindweed is a Bitch!! Thank you very much for the article.

  4. Dawn keep up the good fight!

  5. Nick says:

    I have been having some luck lately. I have got some plastic bottles and cut the tops off. I then, rather than pulling the bindweed out, carefully untangle a good length and stuff it in the bottle. I then spray it with a weed killer called Resolva 24hr. The bottle means I don’t get the weed killer on anything else and it appears to get into the bindweed well. With one/two doses it dies pretty well in a few of days. Then can be removed shortly after.

  6. […] the bindweed and blackberries and holly that the renters next door do nothing about, this Lamium continues to […]

  7. Kate says:

    OMG, they sell the stuff…sheesh! Its as bad if not worse than Knotweed.

    One council said cement the footing where the roots are. I had it really bad and can confirm about choked plants. It was in a neighbor’s garden. It used to come over the fence so I put down weed control fabric but it would crawl under so I put down decorative stone but then it pushed through gaps and up to the the plants in my dry stone wall border.

    Nasty stuff Indeed!
    Thanks for the article

  8. Kate – thanks for sharing your story. Where have you found it for sale? Are you sure you aren’t seeing some of its non-invasive cousins for sale?

  9. Mary Price says:

    I have this problem and little hope of escape. But in one area (before my evil neighbor dumped all her weeds on the fence line) along one fence I killed it by pouring boiling water along the fence (a different fence). I was doing a lot of canning and young and strong at the time.

  10. Barb says:

    I live in Kirkland and we are inundated with Morning Glory everywhere. Years ago, the former Public Works Director for the city told me why! When Kirkland was first constructing roads they needed a lot of fill – they went to Woodinville where there was a field covered in Morning Glory where they got the fill dirt. I live in an historic house, built at a time before they scraped away all the topsoil to build, consequently I have MG everywhere and it’s a never ending battle every year. My kids, when they lived at home, used to like to pull the Morning Glory because there was so much instant gratification. I just look at the piles now and think of it that way!

  11. Barb, thanks for sharing your unfortunate story. It’s kind of the kudzu of the the PacNW. Meh.

  12. Mary Price says:

    I have had some success pouring boiling water on it. But in some areas I can’t because I am not willing to kill everything around it as well. It used to be a problem only in one area, then my neighbor decided to pile up her weeds along the fence. That I did not murder her is quite miraculous. Somehow it was not her fault because it was too difficult for her to put her weeds somewhere else and I’m just a bitch.

  13. Mary, Thanks for finding humor in this cruddy situation. Here’s hoping you can keep a positive attitude despite this ongoing challenge!

  14. Hilary Knight says:

    I do put bindweed runners and other noxious weeds in the compost–but I pour several kettles full of boiling water on them first in a big bucket and let them sit for a couple of days. Even bindweed can’t survive that. I quite enjoy doing it . . . .

    I’ve also had success with leaving the grubbed-out runners in black plastic garbage bags in the sun for several months, but it’s unsightly. If you scald them to death, once the water has cooled you can tip the runners right into the compost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)