Now, we've all heard this one - "you must dig out every single scrap of bindweed, otherwise it will grow back."
Is it true? And, how small a piece of root does it need, in order to grow back?
Several years ago, I did a couple of very small experiments for myself, and the results indicated that bindweed will grow back from lengths of root as small as 1½" - that's about 4cms - with no problem, but small pieces did not sprout.
Fast forward in time to last week (montage of diary pages flipping over at speed) (because unfortunately, I don't live opposite a ladies' wear shop with a handy mannequin in the front window), where I was checking over a large bed which, a couple of weeks previously, had been the subject of an infestation of an invasive plant, and which had been clear-dug. We removed every single plant, and put them into quarantine: and I dug once, dug twice, and dug thrice to remove all of the invader.
Well, first the good news: the Houttuynia was completely gone, not a sign of it: no regrowth in the triple-dug bed, and no sign in the quarantined plants, either.
We - Mrs Client and I - decided that it was ok to replace the plants, and in doing so, we decided to spread them out a wee bit further than the clear-dug area, so I was tasked with digging over another section of the border. We could see a few strands of bindweed there: the border contains two mature trees, whose roots make it impossible to dig out the bindweed properly, so we accept that there is always going to be a certain amount of bindweed to be monitored and controlled.
Long story made short, I dug out as much as I could, and where the new area met the thrice-dug area, I found one cheeky little strand of bindweed:
It's a single shoot of bindweed, but that's no reason to ignore it: one slender shoot can quickly grow to become a real infestation.
So out it came, and this - left - is what I found.
Can you see, there's a tiny bit of old, slightly browner, root.
Here's another shot of it:
There isn't anything for scale, so you'll have to take my word for it that the old, browner piece of root was about ¾" long, that's less than 2cm.
And as you can see, it is functioning perfectly well, and has put forth a good length of new stem - it was about a yard long (1m) above the ground.
I think this proves the point that yes! Bindweed DOES grow back from the tiniest scrap of root!
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