Controls for vines include repeated pulling or cutting back, mowing, mulching, and herbicides. In a turf situation, grass should be properly maintained and mowed as high as possible. These vines have a difficult time growing in thick, lush turfgrass. Postemergent herbicides that provide at least some control of these vines include but are not limited to the following: 2,4-D, carfentrazone, quinclorac, dicamba, oxyfluorfen, and triclopyr. Glyphosate may also be used for spot applications as it is a non-selective herbicide. Be sure to carefully read and follow all label directions. Repeated applications may be necessary. Summer annual weeds are most susceptible to treatment in the spring or early summer when they are young. For perennials such as the bindweeds, fall applications may be most effective.
Vining plants are often desirable in the home landscape. They cleverly disguise carefully placed trellises and their form seems to take on a life of its own. Some vines have been known to cover trees, poles, cars, and even slow moving animals I suspect. Quite a few vines are considered weedy by most. Too often, people will allow an unidentified, cute, little vine to flower. Fast forward a few years, and its population will be out of control. The initial cuteness impression will be long gone and efforts will be underway to eradicate it.
Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium) is a perennial vine that spreads by rhizomes. The leaves are alternate on the stem and are distinctly triangular in shape with a pointy tip. The leaf base is cut squarely. The flowers are white to pink, and funnel-shaped like that of morningglory, another vine I will discuss in a bit. Bindweed is often mistaken for morningglory which is an annual weed. Initially, it may not be perceived as much of a problem, although, the rhizomes can help this vine spread quickly.
Proper identification is critical to good weed control as is scouting often for emerging weed issues. Need some help identifying those mystery vines? Here is a brief description of some of the more common weedy vines found in lawns and gardens. As with all broadleaf weeds, leaf arrangement, flower type and the presence of underground structures such as rhizomes or tubers all play a key role in identification.
Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is similar to hedge bindweed except the leaves are arrowhead shaped with a rounded tip. Also, the leaves are smaller and the leaf bases are rounded with outwardly divergent lobes. I try to keep the two straight by thinking "hedges have edges." Field bindweed is a rhizomatous perennial as well.
Honeyvine milkweed (Ampelamus albidus) is a perennial vine that spreads by seed and long spreading roots. The leaves are heart-shaped on long petioles and opposite on the stem. Flowers are small, whitish, and borne in clusters. It forms a smooth, green seed pod that is similar to that of common milkweed. Pods persist into winter and can then be spotted easily in the landscape when evergreens are the backdrop. The presence of the pod is a dead giveaway for identifying this weed.
Wild buckwheat (Polygonum convolvulus) is similar also, but the lobes at the base of the leaf point backwards toward the petiole and it has an ochrea which is the easiest way to differentiate between these species. An ochrea is a papery sheath that encircles the stem where the petiole attaches to the stem. It is indicative of the smartweed family for which it is a member. Also, the flowers are greenish white and inconspicuous. They are clustered on long white racemes. Wild buckwheat is an annual so there are no rhizomes like the bindweeds have. Don’t let this fool you; it is still considered a "serious weed" according to Weeds of the North Central States.
Poison hemlock stems are hairless and often develop a waxy appearance with either purple spots or a purple overall color. Photo by Meaghan Anderson.
Wild carrot rosette in a crop field. Photo by Bob Hartzler.
A close-up of pineapple weed leaves shows the fern-like divisions and the start of an inconspicuous flower. Photo by Bob Hartzler.
Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) is another biennial species that has finely-divided leaves, though this plant may already be bolting and is the largest of the species discussed here. Poison hemlock rosettes may be up to 2 feet in diameter and flowering plants are rarely less than 6 feet tall. Poison hemlock is usually a weed of perennial habitats like pastures, hayfields, or non-crop areas. Leaves of this species are much larger than the counterparts in this article; they usually have a wide base (more triangular-shape) and shiny appearance. The plant is hairless. As the plant matures, the leaf petioles and flowering stalk often have a waxy appearance with purple blotches. White flowers in a compound umbel shape are similar to wild carrot. See more images of poison hemlock here.
#3: Canada thistle
One reason that Canada thistle is so common: its root system spreads by runners, allowing it to produce many new plants and return year after year. To eradicate it, pull all running roots.
Ten Weeds to Pull Now:
North Shore residents know buckthorn well. It is the shrubby tree that pops up in a hedge or wooded area, then chokes out every other plant, cutting off sunlight as it spreads. As its name warns, buckthorn has thorns, adding injury to insult for those who forget to wear gloves and goggles while removing it.
#10: Yellow nutsedge
#7: Garlic mustard