The Q&A Archives: Jenny bindweed

Question: How can I get rid of this annoying weed in my flower bed that strangles or keeps everything I plant from thriving (without harming the perennials I have there). I've looked on the internet and believe it is a weed called

Answer: Creeping Jenny, also called field bindweed or morning glory, is one of the most difficult weeds to eradicate or control. It is a perennial weed that spreads underground and by seed. It grows long, creeping stems that twine themselves around anything handy---fences, field crops, and flowers. It's an extensive root system that can reach 15 feet underground.

Over time, you can eradicate it with a powerful, all-purpose herbicide such as Round-Up. However, you will eradicate everything else too, so this is seldom a good idea. You can control (not eradicate) it by hand.

The key is to pull out as much as possible, and keep at it. By doing this, you will remove the troublesome vines and keep the plant at bay. Whenever you see it come back, pull it out again.

University of Idaho researchers found that field bindweed can actually be killed by starving the root system. This is done by waiting until the plant is at the early bud stage, then cutting it off. Repeat this every time it reaches the early bud stage. Until the early bud stage, the plant uses more reserves from the roots than the green top produces. Eventually the root system is exhausted and dies.

After the early bud stage, the green top begins to replenish the root system, so if you wait until it blooms you have waited too long. It will keep growing back. So with patience and diligence, you might eliminate it over a period of years. Good luck!

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