Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is a pesky weed that can wreak havoc on Colorado lawns. It’s an aggressive, fast-growing perennial with white or pink trumpet-shaped flowers and long, fibrous roots. Field bindweed has been known to spread rapidly and outcompete even healthy grasses and gardens for resources in the soil. This makes it difficult to control without proper identification and treatment. In this article, we’ll discuss how to identify field bindweed, its life cycle, how to prevent it from spreading in your yard, and more!
Be sure to check out our list of 10 common lawn weeds to stay informed on the types of weeds you may have to contend with in Colorado.
How To Identify Field Bindweed
Field bindweed is a low-growing, vine-type lawn weed that wraps around and chokes out other vegetation in your yard. The growth of field bindweed can be described as creeping with twining stems, as it will crawl along the ground as it spreads and crawl up onto other plants and structures in its path. Its leaves are arrowhead-shaped and alternate along the stem. Identifying these uniquely shaped leaves is the best way to spot a field bindweed invasion before the weed develops flowers and matures.
In summer, white or pink trumpet-shaped flowers bloom at the top of each stem. The bindweed flower has five fused petals which often have darker stripes running down them. While field bindweed can look pretty when blooming, it’s still an intrusive weed and should be removed from your lawn as soon as possible.
Look For These In Your Yard:
- Trumpet-shaped, white-to-pink flowers
- Arrowhead-shaped leaves
- Often seen climbing up taller plants
- Smooth stems (only slightly hairy)
- Twining stem formation
- Complex, invasive roots
Field Bindweed vs. Morning Glory Flowers
Morning glories belong to the same family as field bindweed, which is why the flowers produced by field bindweed are referred to as morning glories. However, the species of morning glories you would intentionally plant in your garden is not the same as field bindweed. Convolvulus arvensis is the species known as field bindweed. Though this species is in the same family as morning glory flowers, there are many other species of flowers that could be considered morning glories. In fact, the most popular type of morning glory flower belongs to an entirely different genus (Ipomoea), which includes many different species within itself.
There are over 1,000 species of plants in the morning glory/bindweed family, but there are some key differences between desirable morning glory flowers and field bindweed. Field bindweed produces flowers that are white or pink, whereas morning glories can come in a wide variety of colors. Most importantly, bindweed is a perennial nuisance with invasive and harmful growth habits, but morning glories tend to be annual plants that grow at a healthy rate and do not disrupt or harm the surrounding vegetation. The main thing to remember is that you do not want bindweed growing in your yard, but morning glories make beautiful additions to your garden.
Life Cycle Of Field Bindweed
Field bindweed begins its life as seeds that are spread by wind or water and deposited into your yard’s soil. The seeds can remain dormant for several years before they germinate, so even if you don’t have any visible signs of field bindweed now, there could still be viable seeds lurking in your soil waiting to sprout up when given favorable conditions. Once these dormant seeds germinate, they form a vine-type plant with arrowhead-shaped leaves at ground level during the spring months when temperatures warm up and rainfall increases.
The bindweed plant then sends out underground stems called rhizomes to anchor themselves deep into the soil, forming more plants over time as they branch outwards from their original location. This process continues through the summer months until fall arrives and temperatures begin to cool down again causing growth to slow down significantly or stop completely. Flowers bloom in mid-summer, usually sometime in June in the Colorado area. Seeds will disperse during the hottest days of summer, usually 2 weeks after pollination. Once the colder months are gone, both the rhizomes and seeds in the soil from the previous year will begin to grow once again.
Where Does Field Bindweed Grow?
Field bindweed grows throughout the United States, except in the deepest parts of the southeastern states. As the name suggests, this weed is commonly found in open fields, but it is also notorious for popping up along highways and in gardens, as long as there is plenty of direct sunlight. Bindweed is not very competitive in areas that are too shaded, so your chances of seeing it on your property are lower if your lawn and yard are shaded by obstructions. It is moderately drought tolerant, and it prefers disturbed soil where other vegetation is already thriving.
How Does Field Bindweed Spread?
Though field bindweed does produce seeds that can remain viable for over 20 years, a single plant only produces somewhere between 25 and 300 seeds, many of which will not germinate. The real danger of field bindweed spreading is its root system. Each plant that grows can produce a taproot and lateral root system with rhizomes in the soil that extends further than you might think. These roots will spread every season and pick up right where they left off in the following season if they are not removed.
Each individual taproot can grow up to 20 feet deep, and the lateral roots stay close to the soil surface where they can steal nutrients and destroy surrounding vegetation. These invasive root structures often intertwine with other plant roots when they run into them, making it difficult for gardeners to distinguish between the two systems without excessive digging and weeding. Field bindweed multiplies at a quick rate by rhizomes that produce new shoots, which means more harmful stems crawling all over your plants.
How To Prevent & Control Field Bindweed
Due to the aforementioned root system and underground rhizomes, mature field bindweed gets more and more difficult to remove as it grows and spreads out in the soil. The best way to prevent it from taking over your lawn is to spot and identify it early, when the plants are still small. As soon as you notice a bindweed seedling in your yard, take quick action by hand-pulling the plant with its roots intact or using an appropriate herbicide, such as glyphosate or dicamba. Remember to look for the arrowhead-shaped leaves and twining stem to identify an immature field bindweed plant before it flowers. Below are some other methods for preventing and controlling field bindweed in Colorado:
- Mulch: Applying mulch is a great way to block out weed seedlings, especially low-growing weeds like field bindweed.
- Prune: Though it is only a temporary solution, pruning down the vine is a quick way to slow the spread of field bindweed.
- Pull: Grabbing and pulling firmly at the base of a young bindweed plant can be effective, but it will not work on mature weeds.
- Apply Herbicides: Glyphosate is most commonly recommended to treat a mature field bindweed plant in late summer or early fall, but pre-emergent in spring can also help reduce seed production later in the year. Call Lush Green Services today for more information on the best weed control methods for Colorado lawns!