How to deal with Dog-strangling vine


I have a garden that contains a Honeysuckle vine, Vinca groundcover and Lily-of-the Valley, and also something that I originally assumed was milkweed, and thought, “I’ll leave this to grow, and it’ll attract butterflies!”  I now realize it’s Dog Strangling Vine!  I’ve  been researching various herbicides to get rid of it. I’ve been told this is very difficult, due to pesticide regulations. I’ve considered getting rid of everything in the garden, but I also have two trees planted in the yard.  What can I do ?



Well, the good news is that now you’ve identified this highly invasive species,  Dog Strangling Vine, known as DSV. There are several good websites that can help you deal with this pest.  For information form the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Association click here.

You also mentioned that you have considered full removal of all the DSV plant and root matter.  A propos of this, you have also identified three other invasives in your garden — honeysuckle, lily of the valley and vinca.  So this might be your golden opportunity to clear all of these from your garden.

The vinca  is cited  as an invasive plant on the Ontario government-sanctioned  website, which offers a free download of a new book on invasive species affecting hardwood forests in Ontario. The site also has plenty of good info (and images) of the two types of dog-strangling vine, as well as info on plants that are confused with it.  And a useful chart on how to control it. The problem with DSV is that it IS a member of the milkweed family, and monarch butterflies do lay eggs on it. But the plant doesn’t offer the larvae the support they need to fully mature.  So it is actually bad for butterflies.

Depending on the size of your garden, a complete renewal of your property might be the more direct, and satisfying, solution to dealing with these seriously invasive plants, with more immediate results, and a fresh start in your garden. You didn’t mention if  the adjoining properties  have also been invaded: if they haven’t, then I’m sure your neighbours would really appreciate your efforts; if they have, then you may wish to consider a joint effort.

In any event, if you choose to fully renew your garden, but cannot do the work yourself, you could contact Landscape Ontario to find a gardening service in your area.  You might also ask your local nursery to recommend a couple of reliable landscape services that could provide you with a plan, that would also ensure that the root systems of your two trees, which lie close to the ground surface, would be safely cared for in the process.

For  information from the Ontario Government, click here.  There is also a link to the Grow me instead program here.

Landscape Ontario: