July 26, 2021
When I checked my rose bush last week, I noticed it had been completely enveloped in bindweed. I was surprised by how quickly it had overgrown my plant. I have seen the invasive effect of bindweed driving along the turnpike across Oklahoma. In some places it has completely covered the trees and fences on both sides of the highway. It appears I have two types of bindweed on my roses (lucky me!), as I have both pink flowers and bluish-purple flowers. I have marveled at the extent of the growth along the road and have wondered how long it had taken to be so widespread. If my rose bush was any indication, it did not take long.
When I looked online, I found that Bindweed (Convolvus arvensis) is considered the bane of gardeners. The species is related to the morning glory and is also known as the perennial morning glory and small flower morning glory. Other common names include creeping Jenny and possession vine (rightly named). There are two forms of the plant. The Convolvulus arvensis (var. arvensis) has broader leaves and Convolvulus arvensis (var. linearfolius) has narrower leaves. It has medium-green, arrow-shaped leaves and white-pinkish flowers that look like those of morning glories. Bindweed can grow four feet or more in length and has deep, strong roots. It is considered invasive for its rapid and persistent grow that allows it to choke out native species.
As with most invasive species, I was not surprised to see most of the information on bindweed was designed to let me know how to get rid of it. The best way is to remember that you need to be just as vigilant and persistent as the weed itself. When you find bindweed in your garden you need to begin by cutting it off at the soil line. If you try and pull it up it will just grow from wherever you tore the roots, and it is virtually impossible to get all the root. Bindweed thrives in cultivated soil that is rich in nitrogen (i.e., cultivated fields and gardens). Since you cannot stop the seeds from germinating, you need to be patient and wait for it to grow so you can see it. By constantly cutting it off you may be able to eventually starve the plant (from a lack of photosynthesis) and cause it to die. Maybe.
Thoughts: Another thing I found about bindweed is that it can stay dormant in the ground for up to 50 years. All it takes is the right conditions and it will spring to life. While bindweed is not a parasite, it can overwhelm the host it attaches to as it climbs toward the sun. This can in turn cut off light for the tree or bush and cause it to struggle to survive. Humans are known to take the same approach. Many of the big corporations today began as small partnerships. As they grew the dominant partner took over direction and often even forced/bought the weaker partner out of the business. Several of these corporations are now so large they completely dominate the market, chocking out all the competition that allowed them to grow in the first place. Apparently, humans can be noxious as well. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.