bittersweet- getting rid of
A few years ago I purchased a bittersweet vine. It was suppose to be one that you only needed a single plant and not a male/female. Well, either the tags were wrong or something. It has been growing for almost 15 years (real long, I cut it back lots a couple of times a season - zone 3) But it now appears to also be spreading at the root area. Is there a way to get rid of it?? I know cruel and hard but I have a v creeper also on that fence that can cover it just as well and at least gives me nice colour in the fall. Help!! Valerie D. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Even true American bittersweet is a strong vine. Unfortunately, it is now difficult to find a true American species because the invasive oriental bittersweet is more prevalent and it cross pollinates with the native vine. Eradicating it means using herbicide; the root system is massive. Get a concentrate of triclopyr. Cut the vine down and immediately apply the concentrate to the stump(s). I use a foam brush. Keep an eye out for new shoots 5-10 ft from the main stem. Cut and treat those too. Spring is when the roots send energy up to the branches so they can form a new crop of leaves. Right after the vine is done leafing out is the time to cut it down. The roots are pretty depleted at that time. Through photosynthesis, leaves will send energy (carbohydrates) down to the roots if you delay cutting it down. If you live near a river, swamp or other water source, there are tight restrictions in the use of herbicide so check local laws.