Field Bindweed Control

Field bindweed is difficult to control, especially for homeowners, but there are options.

Home Vegetable Gardens
Weed control requires taking the treated portion of the garden out of production for a time.

Solarization – Solarization uses the energy from the sun to produce heat that pasteurizes the soil. Follow these steps to solarize a garden area:

1. Select the hottest time of year to solarize, usually mid-June to mid-August in Missouri and Kansas.

2. Work the soil deeply, and smooth the surface so the clear plastic will make uniform contact with the soil.

3. Water well. Moisture encourages seed to germinate and existing bindweed to grow so the plants can be killed by the heat. The water also helps conduct the heat deeper into the soil.

4. Spread clear polyethylene film over the area. Seal the edges and seams with soil to prevent air from circulating under the plastic. One mil film is most effective at creating heat, but is likely to be torn apart by Kansas winds. Film that is 4 mil thick is more likely to last.

5. Leave the plastic in place for 4 to 6 weeks. The longer time is more effective.

6. Remove the plastic after 6 weeks. If you leave it in place longer, it may become brittle from exposure to ultraviolet radiation and be difficult to remove. You can plant the next day.

Glyphosate – Glyphosate is sold under a wide variety of names, the most common being Roundup. Take the garden out of production when treating.

1. Roundup is a nonselective herbicide that will kill whatever it hits. But it is inactivated when it contacts the soil.

2. Roundup is most effective when applied to bindweed that is at or beyond full bloom.
You can treat earlier but don’t skip the late summer to fall application.

3. Do not apply to bindweed that is under moisture stress or not growing well.

Selective herbicides are available.  A herbicide with the trade name of Drive (quinclorac) has, until recently, only been available to commercial applicators. However, there is now Drive packaged for homeowners and is available from Monterey Lawn and Garden ( ). There are also homeowner combination herbicides that contain Drive such as Ortho Weed-B-Gon Max + Crabgrass Control and Bayer All-in-One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer.

Commercial applicators can also use Drive (quinclorac) as well as Q4 (contains quinclorac). Products with Drive work about as well as glyphosate but is selective.

Shrub Beds
Use a spray of glyphosate between plants. Use a shield if spraying near plants to keep spray from contacting green plant material. Remember, glyphosate will hurt your shrubs if it contacts green tissue.

It is possible to control field bindweed by pulling, but you must be extremely persistent. I remember reading a study from the 1940s that found that bindweed produces enough energy to start strengthening the roots when it reached the six-leaf stage. So, if pulling, never allow plants to produce more than six leaves.


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