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Managing Weeds: Morning Glory Bindweed

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Morning glory bindweed eradication is possible.

Morning glory bindweed is a difficult weed to remove. But it is possible to control bindweed. And the best ways to get rid of bindweed is organically.  So if you’re looking for how to get rid of bindweed, we’ve got lots of helpful information. In fact, we’ve included what to do to get rid of bindweed. And we’ve added suggestions for what not to do to get rid of morning glory weeds.

And you may be able to eradicate bindweed. However, there are a lot of myths about ways to get rid of bindweed. And those will likely end up causing more harm than good for your garden. And they aren’t likely to get rid of your morning glory problem.

But we’re here to help you with methods to make managing bindweed a little easier and more successful. And we’ll also get into methods to avoid when trying to get rid of bindweed. Plus, there’s even a beneficial insect you might want to attract to help beat back your morning glory bindweed problem!

Morning glory bindweed can be managed with these steps...

Bindweed aka Morning Glory is known botanically as Convovulus arvensis. It is also called field bindweed.

Can I use boiling water to kill bindweed or other home remedies?

Unfortunately, boiling water won’t eradicate your bindweed. Moreover, most home remedies aren’t going to get rid of bindweed. More likely they will leave the bindweed behind. And they”ll probably damage your garden soil, flora and fauna instead.

  • When you use boiling water to kill bind weed, it will wilt top growth a bit, but it won’t kill the roots.
  • If you use salt to kill bindweed, salt won’t kill your morning glory problem. But, added salt and salt water will just add problems to your soil.
  • Vinegar may kill bindweed leaves and stems a bit, but it won’t destroy bindweed roots. so you’ll still have a morning glory weed problem.
  • And for goodness sakes, don’t use bleach to get rid of bindweed. That’s because bleach will do some nasty damage to the earth.

Can I smother bindweed with black plastic?

Covering bindweed with black plastic to smother it isn’t something we’d recommend. That’s because bindweed will just move underground, under the plastic to pop up somewhere else. Plus, the plastic will do damage to the earth below as well.

What about using herbicides to kill off field bindweed fast?

While we aren’t fans of using herbicides to get rid of weeds, we have tried some of the chemical techniques bantered around for bindweed. But, none of these got rid of morning glory bind weed:

  • Spraying it with herbicide in spring, summer or fall didn’t work.
  • And cutting the off the ends of the vine and soaking the tips in herbicide failed.
  • So we quit wasting time, energy and environmental integrity doing this.
  • And we returned to manual removal.

Understanding bindweed is a key to beating it.

Unfortunately, it’s going to take time and patience to beat back an infestation of unwanted field bindweed. But, going after it the right way, at the right time, can make all the difference. And, understanding how the plant grows seasonally helps unlock keys to eradicating this plant.

Morning glory bindweed is an herbaceous, perennial that hides from view in winter. This means its top growth dies back for winter (in the northern hemisphere).  And as it does this, it sends all of the nutrients from the top into the roots in fall. This keeps its roots fat, strong and growing underground in winter. And its roots spread deep, far, thick and wide. Then, right around the beginning of spring, it begins to send up shoots. And those shoots grow upward fast. Moreover they seek out anything they can climb and strangle with their twining stems. Meanwhile, the roots continue to travel underground. And as the roots travel, they send up more shoots. Plus as those stems reach sunlight, they further strengthen the roots.

Moreover, it only takes a tiny piece of root to grow a new plant. So if you break a piece of root, you’ll get a new morning glory bindweed shoot.

Unfortunately, birds spread its seeds. And that creates new plants too.

All of this enables morning glory bindweed to take over a garden bed fast.

And while there is a beneficial insect that eats morning glory bindweed, it doesn’t eat enough of it! But we’ll get into more about that morning glory bindweed eating bug in a bit.

Field indweed Roots

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

So…what’s the best way to beat this powerful weed back?

  • The most important thing is to dig out all of the roots.
  • That’s because even a tiny bit of root left behind will sprout anew almost instantaneously.
  • 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 as much as you can.
  • And use garden weeding tools such as pairing a garden fork and a hori-hori knife.
  • Lay what you pull onto a tarp or plastic sheet in the hot sun to cook it to death.
  • Then don’t put it in your compost.
  • Burn or trash whatever you pull.
  • And continue to watch your garden for new shoots.
  • That’s because they’ll probably emerge again soon.
  • Then you’ll need to repeat your hand removal work.
  • And whatever you do, don’t let it bloom and spread seeds.
  • Or you’ll have even more patches of morning glory bindweed to contend with.

And when is the best time to dig up bindweed?

  • The best time to dig up bindweed roots is usually late winter or early spring.
  • That’s because this is when soil is usually moist and easy to dig.
  • Plus this weed is either still dormant or it has begun to emerge just a bit for spring.
  • Too other herbaceous and deciduous plants are also likely still bare.
  • And that means it’s easy to spot the bindweed.
  • However if you want until late spring, it’ll be more difficult to work around other plants.
  • And if you postpone starting until summer, borders will be lush and soil may be drier.
  • However if you see it twining up any time of year, get after it fast.
  • Moreover come autumn, the plant will be withering to hide in earth for winter.
  • But if you mark your bindweed patch location in autumn, you may be able to dig up roots all winter.
  • That’s because the ground will be more bare again.
  • However if it is frozen, you may need to wait until spring.
Bindweed Root Pile

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

What if bindweed roots are entangled in desirable plant roots?

  • In the blink of an eye, bindweed will climb your shrubs and trees.
  • And when it engulfs the tops of your favorite plants, carefully unwind the vine from its branches all the way to the ground.
  • Then dig out as much root as possible.
  • Moreover if bindweed roots are mixed in with the roots of perennials, you may need to dig up everything.
  • Then rinse soil thoroughly from the roots.
  • And hand remove all of the morning glory bindweed roots before you replant your perennials.
  • As well you not want to transplant any of those perennial divisions elsewhere.
  • That’s because it only takes a tiny bit of missed bindweed root to move the bindweed along with your divisions.
  • And if you have patch of land full of bindweed and you want to plant a garden into it, be sure to clear the bindweed before you plant.

When will my field bindweed finally be all gone?

Unfortunately, once you have an established bindweed patch, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be fully rid of it. This plant is a powerhouse. But, if you get after it early and often, managing isn’t impossible.

But, seriously, tell me more about this beneficial insect that eats bindweed

  • There is a golden tortoise beetle that feeds on morning glories.
  • And that includes bindweed.
  • But the damage it does is fairly insignificant.
  • However anything that puts a dent in bindweed is worth supporting.
  • So before you decide to apply pesticides to bindweed, remember, you may have a crop of overwintering golden tortoise beetles.
  • That’s because they like to spend winter in bindweed patches.
  • But it may be tough to know if you have these beetles in your garden.
  • That’s because their shiny golden form is fleeting.
  • And their larvae is illusive.
Golden Tortoise Beetle on Bind Weed

Golden Tortoise Beetle on morning glory bindweed

WSU Entomologist Sharon Collman spoke to me about the golden tortoise beetle…

The adult (golden tortoise beetles) show up in fall and overwinter so they are found again in spring.  When the eggs hatch, small “windows” appear in leaves where the larvae scrape away all but the upper epidermis of the leaf (adult eats clean holes in leaves).  The larvae look like a piece of soot on the leaf because they cover themselves with frass (bug poo) and hide beneath it.  When an adult dies, the structural integrity of the wings changes and they loose their liquid gold color and fade to orange.  Alas no earrings from these.

Need help managing other garden weeds?

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33 comments on “Managing Weeds: Morning Glory Bindweed

  1. Susan Swain on

    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. Garden Mentors on

    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 on

    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. Nick on

    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.

  5. Kate on

    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

  6. Mary Price on

    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.

  7. Barb on

    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!

  8. Mary Price on

    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.

  9. Hilary Knight on

    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.

  10. Lori Allen on

    Little did we realize when we bought this (near an acre) property about 4 years ago, that most of it was Bindweed. It had formerly been badly managed grass seed field, left to neglect by years of rental. The only things this place grows well is the most obnoxious weeds. Horrendous varieties of grass, at least 7 types of thistles at last count, tansy ragweed, willow herb, and a 8 ft tall hedge of Himalayan Blackberry growing over the top of Poison Oak along the entirety of the back line.. blackberry along both sides too, and the poison oak is encroaching more every year despite my efforts. And that’s just the bad ones. My neighbors to all three sides do nothing to control the stuff on their own property- the yards have been abandoned to the weeds because they have much larger acreage and don’t care about the “little” over grown areas on the edges. I have little hope of digging out the Bindweed here either.

  11. Garden Mentors on

    Wow Lori. That’s a tough space to manage. But, I bet a lot of nature is actually flocking to it. It’s not an ideal situation, but it sounds like calling it a “novel ecosystem” might one way to find a silver lining in this challenging space.

  12. Leslie Jacobs on

    My chickens ( 8) have their own yard…for spring and summer, early fall..there is not one piece of Bind weed, dandelions or Black medic……like the rest of my yard..they wisely do not eat the salt heliotrope.

  13. Jo Bonnington on

    Saw an article years ago in Alaska Magazine where a Gardener in British Columbia had issues w/bindweed invading his garden. He built a 6 foot wide chicken run around the entire perimeter of the garden. The chickens kept the bindweed and other invasives out completely. The pen was 6 foot wide which prevented predators from flying in to steal the chickens. We’re tired of bindweed. Getting chickens this fall!

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