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Zapping Bindweed

Having trouble with bindweed taking over your gardens? Moya explains the best way to get rid of them, on this Focus on Flowers.

The ubiquitous weed, we know as bindweed, forms mats on the ground but also twines its slender stems around perennials and shrubs. It has triangular shaped leaves and an open faced flower, a bit like a morning glory in design, but usually white. This plant engages in the unpleasant habit of strangulation.

Gardeners who go on vacation in the summer or fall usually return to find a bumper crop of bindweeds garlanding the plants in their gardens, growing luxuriantly green even when their prized plantings are wilting in heat and drought.

Most gardeners pull it off in a frenzy, however, this does not dislodge the roots and the plants live to return again another day and year. Even those of us who profess to love all flowers abhor bindweed.

This. Is. War.

I have been waging war on bindweed with a vengeance this year, but it is hard to spray it with a herbicide without damaging the host plants. I have used coffee cans and plastic plates balanced precariously on the branches of shrubs, to gather the tendrils and then spray them, but this is a risky business.

A Garden of Plastic

My neighbor suggested plastic grocery sacks. So now I gather as many tendrils and leaves of each bindweed plant as I can, stuff them into a bag, and spray them inside the bag. Then, tie the bag up and wait.

Of course my perennials and shrubs look a little strange dotted with plastic bags, but it is a small price to pay for the satisfaction I feel as I observe the slow wilting of each of the bindweed plants and their gradual demise.

My garden bloomed with plastic this summer and fall but I was triumphant. I hope that there will be fewer of those pesky bindweeds in my garden next year. Time will tell.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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