Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, appears during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.By Carolyn Brown
Calendar spring is barely a couple of weeks along, and true spring arrives slowly at this altitude. However, I already have an abundant crop of bindweed in my garden. It is a couple of inches tall, well-established and the right size for transplanting, which is a good way to get this little plant growing in your garden.
Bindweed is a hardy herbaceous perennial that does well at our altitude and flourishes in most of the county. It produces seeds that sprout voluntarily, but extensive research produced no commercial source of those seeds. New plants will have to come from transplants.
Most of the active root system is in the top 1 to 2 feet of soil, so large containers will hold enough of the root for viable plants. The good news is that during the spring, a 1-square-foot section of garden soil contains at least 12 seedlings, so there are plenty available. Roots of established plants can grow to a depth of 14 feet, but we won’t have to dig that deep,
Bindweed, a sturdy plant that doesn’t grow to any great size, has dark green arrow-shaped leaves with small white or pink flowers. It is difficult to destroy because it has deep roots and can spread 10 feet in a season, sending down laterals as it grows, producing more new plants.
Herbicides have little effect, and hoeing or pulling the plant is limited because of the rooting/lateral-growth system. Once established, you can relax and watch your bindweed take over. Not requiring much water or fertilizer, it doesn’t need sunshine and will climb over other plants to reach light.
Care must be taken that the vines don’t become so aggressive that they damage desirable tall plants. Avoid using black plastic mulch, which can kill bindweed. Volunteer seedlings in early spring aren’t deeply rooted so they are easily damaged by hoeing. Care must be taken not to disturb them before they get a root system established.
This is an opportunity to get all of the bindweed starts needed with assurance that, once established, you will enjoy this vigorous little plant for many years. Bindweed is being used in cancer research, so your little crop of seedlings may someday turn into a valuable asset.
Email or call Darrin Parmenter at the La Plata County Extension Office at email@example.com or 382-6464 to let us know when you want to get your free starts.
Since April Fool’s Day falls on Easter Sunday this year, we may have to celebrate it either before or after the actual date.
Carolyn Brown is a current Colorado master gardener volunteer. She lives in Bayfield.