Please identify this weed like vine..

(Question)

Hi there, it would be greatly appreciated if someone could please ID this pervasive plant. Found in backyard, becomes very leafy, and the vine coils around any plant/tree that it comes near. Backyard formerly had a grape vine (which we removed tho some of the root might still be underground). Not convinced its related but could be. It first sprouts as a long spindly vine, then forms leaves. It doesn’t flower. We are located in the west end of downtown Toronto, ON. Full sun in backyard, sandy soil. Thank you so much for your help.

(Answer)

Like many Torontonians, you have bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, in your garden. In appearance it is similar to the morning glory.  It does flower but it is possible that its small white blooms went unnoticed.  It doesn’t have any relation to the grape vines that you removed. Bindweed is a climbing vine and as you describe, the first signs are thin vines that wrap around other plants and grow upward using any support they can find.  The leaves grow next, and as your photo shows, they are heart- or arrowhead-shaped.

You are not the first gardener to ask about this weed, described in another Toronto Master Gardeners post as a “tough customer”.  Here is some information previously published on our website that you may find helpful:

Bindweed is indeed a “tough customer”.  Cultural control is the only option available to you. Thorough hoeing every 10 days (when the plant is 4-6 inches tall) for 2-3 weeks during the growing season can control bindweed. The plants must be cut off below the soil line. You must be as thorough as possible as roots at a distance of 10 feet can still supply food to the roots in the hoed area. Not watering the area also helps to weaken the plant. Black polyethylene mulch or landscape fabric can also be effective but only if no light is allowed to reach the soil or plants. The edges should be overlapped so that no plants can grow between the sheets towards the light. Care should also be taken that no holes are punched into the fabric allowing light to accidentally reach the plants. You can cover the plastic or fabric with bark or rock to make it more aesthetically pleasing. It may take up to 3 years for plants to die using this method and new plants might germinate from seed in the soil when the plastic is removed.

You may find this column from Toronto Star by garden writer Sonia Day interesting – like many of us, she is also a BAG – “Bindweed Afflicted Gardener”:  http://www.thestar.com/life/2013/07/26/bindweed_has_made_me_an_old_bag.html

The Toronto Master Gardeners partnered with the City of Toronto to produce the following publication, which is full of good advice on managing weeds in the garden: http://www1.toronto.ca/city_of_toronto/toronto_public_health/healthy_public_policy/pesticles/files/pdf/gardening_weeds.pdf

Best of luck with this challenging weed!