What Is Bindweed?

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Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is a perennial vine considered a noxious weed in many parts of the world. It is native to Europe but has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America, Australia, and New Zealand. This attractive yet pesky plant goes by many names, including perennial morning glory, creeping jenny, bellbine, sheepbine, and cornbind. Bindweed is difficult to control because it has a deep, extensive root system that can spread for long distances. The plant also produces seeds that can remain viable in the soil for many years.

While an attractive plant with lovely white flowers, bindweed can be a serious problem in gardens and agricultural fields, as it can quickly choke out desirable plants and reduce crop yields. Bindweed grows densely and rapidly, which means it can also damage infrastructure, such as fences and walls.

Identifying Bindweed


Bindweed is, thankfully, a striking plant that makes it easy enough to identify. Here is what to look for when trying to identify bindweed:

  • Leaves: Bindweed leaves are heart-shaped and have smooth edges. They are typically 1-2 inches long and 1-1.5 inches wide.
  • Flowers: Bindweed flowers are white or pink and have a trumpet-shaped bloom. They are typically 1-2 inches in diameter.
  • Stems: Bindweed stems are slender and twining. They can grow up to 20 feet long.
  • Roots: Bindweed roots are deep and extensive. They can spread for long distances.

If you see any of these characteristics in your garden, it is important to inspect the area carefully to see if you have a bindweed infestation. Here are some additional tips for identifying bindweed:

  • Look for bindweed in areas where other plants are struggling. Bindweed is a very aggressive plant that often outcompetes other plants for water and nutrients.
  • Check for bindweed in areas where there has been previous construction or disturbance. Bindweed seeds can be spread by machinery and equipment, so checking these areas for bindweed infestations is important.
  • Be aware of the signs of bindweed infestation. If you see any of the following signs, you likely have a bindweed infestation:
  • Wilting or dying plants
  • Twisted or tangled vines
  • Small, white or pink flowers
  • Deep, extensive root system

Life Cycle Of Bindweed

Bindweed is a perennial plant with a life cycle that lasts over two years. It has a two-stage life cycle: a vegetative stage and a reproductive stage.

Vegetative Stage

The vegetative stage begins when the bindweed seed germinates. The seed produces a seedling that grows into a vine. The vine can grow up to 20 feet long and twines around other plants. The vine has heart-shaped leaves and white or pink flowers. The flowers bloom from late spring to early fall.

Reproductive Stage

The reproductive stage begins when the bindweed vine produces seeds. The seeds are produced in capsules that are about 1/4 inch in diameter. The capsules open when they are ripe, and the wind disperses the seeds. The seeds can remain viable in the soil for many years.

Bindweed can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Sexual reproduction occurs when the bindweed vine produces seeds. Asexual reproduction occurs when the bindweed vine produces new plants from its roots or rhizomes.

Controlling Bindweed

field bindweed with morning glory flowers

While bindweed is an undeniably attractive plant with its lovely flowers and the way it drapes over structures, it is known to be incredibly difficult to control once it has established itself in your garden. There are a number of ways to control bindweed, but no single method is completely effective. Some methods that can be used include:

  • Hand-Pulling: This is the most effective method for small infestations. However, it can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.
  • Solarization: This method covers the infested area with clear plastic for several weeks. The heat from the sun will kill the bindweed roots.
  • Herbicides: There are a number of herbicides that can be used to control bindweed. However, it is important to choose a herbicide labeled for use on bindweed and follow the directions carefully.
  • Biocontrol: There are a number of insects that feed on bindweed. These insects can be used to control bindweed populations, but they are not always effective and come with risks of destroying nearby desirable plants.

The best way to control bindweed is to prevent it from getting established in the first place. This can be done by:

  • Inspect plants for bindweed before planting: If you see any bindweed, do not plant the plant.
  • Cleaning equipment: If you have equipment that has been used in an area with bindweed, be sure to clean it thoroughly before using it in another area.
  • Rotating crops: Rotating crops can help to prevent bindweed from becoming established.
  • Covering the soil: Covering the soil with mulch can help to prevent bindweed seeds from germinating.

Bindweed is a difficult weed to control, but it is not impossible. By following the tips above, you can help to prevent bindweed from getting established in your garden or landscape.