How to Handle Field Bindweed

If this opportunistic weed invades, it’s critical to push back.

Field bindweed is an invasive, herbaceous perennial usually found wreaking havoc along roadways or among agricultural crops. However, it can also make its way to your lawn, landscapes, or hardscapes. Once field bindweed positions itself around your property it can be difficult to remove—the plant's extensive, underground root system makes sure of that. (More on that below.)

Back at ground level, field bindweed creeps along, forming tangled mats. As if that weren't enough, it also climbs up. When this twining, opportunistic weed comes across a pole, shrub, tree, or any other type of protrusion, it pivots skyward and wraps its stems around it. Field bindweed's natural inclination to take over other plants can be so damaging that it's considered a noxious weed in most states (meaning it's so invasive that cultivating it on purpose isn't allowed). If you spot it near your home, use these tips to contain and remove it.

How to Identify Field Bindweed

Field bindweed is often mistaken for morning glory, because the two are very similar in both their appearance and overbearing behavior. However, they are different plants—bindweed is a perennial and morning glory is an annual, for example. Think of field bindweed as the evil cousin, and look out for these features:

  • Trumpet-shaped flowers, white to pinkish, around 1 inch wide
  • Alternate green leaves, arrowhead-shaped with a rounded tip, 1 to 2 inches long
  • Twining stems, 3 to 9 feet long
  • Pale, cord-like roots

How to Prevent and Deal With Field Bindweed

Field bindweed can multiply not only when its seeds are spread, but also by regrowing its roots (think of it like a starfish that loses a limb). That's why pulling, cutting, and mowing are mostly ineffective—even a root fragment as small as 2 inches, if left in the ground, can quickly and easily grow into a new plant. Field bindweed's reproductive double-whammy means prevention, or treating it as soon as you see it, is crucial. Follow these steps to help decrease its chance for success.

  • Maintain a strong lawn. Water deeply but less frequently, set your mower to cut at the right height for your type of grass, and give it a nutritious boost throughout the year with a fertilizer like Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food.
  • Make sure any topsoil, grass seed, or landscape shrubs you buy are from a reputable source to reduce the chance of introducing bindweed into your outdoor areas.
  • Only hand-pull seedlings. Mature roots can fragment and regenerate.
  • If it's in your lawn, treat it with Ortho® WeedClear™ Lawn Weed Killer Ready-to-Use, following label directions. This will work to kill the field bindweed but not your grass.
  • If bindweed is in your landscape or hardscapes, apply Ortho® GroundClear® Super Weed & Grass Killer directly onto the weed, following all label directions. Field bindweed will absorb the formula into its roots and die (but so will anything else that's near it, so spray it on a calm, wind-free day).
  • Don't hesitate to call your local extension service if you need help.

You will likely need to repeat any weed-killing application several times for several seasons. Field bindweed is troublesome and frustrating, but with perseverance, you can tackle it.

Recommended Articles

Learn More