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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Field bindweed no easy landscape foe

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  • Field bindweed produces an almost delicate-looking vine with arrow- or shield-shaped leaves. Until its trumpet-like flowers bloom in pink or white, it’s adept at blending in with lawn or shrub.
    The vine’s No. 1 talent, however, is its ability to multiply. Field bindweed is a non-native that spread to smother or out-compete millions of acres of Kansas crops before it ever reached town, according to Ward Upham, K-State Research and Extension horticulturist.
    “You’d be telling the truth if you said that in Kansas — as elsewhere — it’s officially noxious,” Upham said. “Fortunately, this year homeowners have another weapon in their arsenal of controls.”
    Bindweed can form tangled mats, run along the ground, twist and twine around other plants, plus climb up and over all kinds of things, he said. Each plant can produce up to 500 seeds that remain viable for 50 years.
    But bindweed’s real strength is underground, where the vine’s roots grow deep into the ground, while also extending out far enough to reach from one landscape into neighbors’ yards. Any break in or bud on those lateral roots can produce another plant.
    “This isn’t a weed you can control by hand-pulling unless you’re willing to devote years to the task. Trying to hoe it up simply helps bindweed spread,” Upham said. “The recommended control always has been glyphosate — a nonselective herbicide that kills any green plant tissue it touches. In shrub borders, for example, you have to spray on a still day. You probably should put up cardboard shields, too, to protect the shrubs from any drift.”
    Recently, however, a selective herbicide for use on lawns has come onto the market and sold under the trade name Drive (active ingredient: quinclorac). Drive also is an ingredient now in such combination herbicides as Ortho Weed-B-Gon Max+Crabgrass Control, Fertilome Weed Out with Q, and Bayer All-in-One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer.
    “Drive is very stable on grass clippings. You can let treated clippings fall into the lawn. If you bag them, though, you should discard them, not add them to your compost pile,” the horticulturist warned.  “You’ll be making a big mistake if you assume that because it won’t harm turf, Drive can’t harm other plants.”
    “If you were to convert an area of treated lawn into a vegetable garden, Drive could still damage any tomatoes you planted there within the next 24 months.  Drive can injure exposed tree and shrub roots, too. In fact, to help homeowners avoid possible damage, I recommend not spraying beneath the leaf canopy of any trees.”
    For instructions on how to control bindweed as well as other pests without chemicals, Upham suggests homeowners look at the photo series and instructions for No. 15 in the University of Illinois Extension program called “57 Ways to Protect Your Home Environment.” That page is on the Web at http://www.thisland.illinois.edu/57ways/57ways_15.html. Called soil solarization, the organic approach bares the invaded soil, covers it with clear plastic, and lets it “cook” for two months during the heat of summer.
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