Field bindweed Convolvulus arvensis
Don’t let this morning glory lookalike fool you — it will take over your garden if you let it.
IDENTIFICATION — Native to Europe and Asia, field bindweed is a perennial with arrowhead-shaped dark-green leaves along a vine 1 to 4 ft. long. White, pink or pink and white, 1-in. trumpet-shaped flowers bloom in spring in the South and by midsummer in Northern gardens. Twining up through other plants or along the ground, field bindweed creates large islands as more stems sprout along the fibrous, horizontal root system. In addition, roots can reach 10 to 20 ft. below the surface. As if the deep roots weren’t enough, bindweed reproduces by seed, too.
FAVORITE CONDITIONS — Field bindweed grows throughout most of the United States and Canada, except for the southernmost parts of the Southeast, southern Texas, New Mexico and southern Arizona. This weed isn’t picky about soil and grows in anything from loam to heavy clay. You’ll see it in gardens, ditches, along roadsides or any open area in full sun.
CONTROL — The key to beating this pest is to deprive the roots of nourishment as much as possible. It’s not easy, but persistence pays off. Apply a glyphosate herbicide, such as Roundup®, to mature plants before they set seed. Unfortunately, repeat applications are usually necessary. Be careful using this systemic herbicide around the garden plants you want to keep — it’ll kill them, too.
You can also try digging the roots out. Dig down at least 6 in. and 3 or 4 in. out from the main rhizome. Use a digging fork rather than a spade to avoid breaking up the roots. Dispose of the plants in the garbage. Then cover the area with landscape fabric or a 3- to 4-in.-thick layer of mulch to discourage resprouting. No matter what method you choose, keep the flowers clipped to prevent seeds from forming. One plant may produce up to 550 seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for 50 years.