While you are busy keeping the weeds from exploding out of plant beds and the grass is showing off how fast it can grow with lots of sun and adequate moisture, you may not notice those vines creeping their way to the tops of your shrubs and trees. Do not forget about managing those vines!
It is easiest to control weeds at their seedling stage. Pull ‘em, whack ‘em, spot treat ‘em, mulch ‘em!
IPM for Vines
Cultural – Prevent vines from becoming an issue by removing them at the seedling stage using the methods below. Scout, scout, scout! Look under the shrubs and trees, please!
Mechanical – Cut off the vine as close to the roots as possible. Try to dig down to the roots and remove as much as possible. Some vines have large storage structures underground where they store energy, but they could be extremely challenging to remove.
Biological – Insects or other plant pests can keep vines in check. The air potato beetle is a great example!
Chemical – Treat using a basal stem treatment on the freshly cut stem of the vine near the base. Paint the fresh wound with the correct chemical labeled for the site and treatment method. Sometimes this will be enough to kill the storage structure, and other times you will need to repeat treatment or dig it out. Spot treat seedlings when they emerge to keep the vine under control. Once it grows up the plant and can access sunlight, the leaves can perform more photosynthesis and the plant grows even more vigorously. Do not try to spray the foliage of vines up in the trees because of the strong potential of chemical drift to non-target sites and plants. Remember to apply preemergent herbicides in early February and by the end of November to prevent troublesome vines from ever emerging. As always, follow the label!
It is important to set goals for your the landscape. This will help you know what is normal and when something requires management. There are plenty of vines native to Florida that may be welcome in the landscape. Others may think those natives need to GO. On the other hand, seemingly innocent indoor plants find a place to root outside, and that same plant singlehandedly grows into an entire jungle (pothos, I’m talking to you, babe). Vines left unchecked can impact the structure of a tree or a building, causing more damage during removal. Now is the time to keep these creepers in check.
Check out this amazing plant directory from the UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants to know which vines are locals, which are invaders, and those filling a niche in between!