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Invasive Plants

Porcelain Vine

Ampelopsis brevipedunculata ' Elegans'

Invasive plants both aquatic and terrestrial are a real problem. On a personal level I am really annoyed by a vine called porcelain vine. People like the pretty pale blue berries that look like fine porcelain.  This is a plant that I find frequently in my own yard. For some time, I thought it was just a local problem, meaning my neighborhood, because Wing Haven, a bird sanctuary, sold the plant at various plant sales over the years. They are not the only ones to do so. I see if for sale on the internet also. The birds like the berries and there are hundreds if not thousands of them from each plant, and I suspect that is one of the ways it is moving around so fast in the outdoors. It has not been a well known vine and once introduced is virtually impossible to effectively control.

If you are not familiar with what it does or what it looks like I will describe it later. But first, I now see this plant everywhere I look. It starts off as a small vine and looks like a grape leaf. If you pull it up it breaks off at the root and comes back. If you forget about it for a year or two, it will be 30 feet up into your tree or through your bushes. The trunk or stem will be as big as your index finger.

For a time I thought Roundup would control it, but it does not or if it does, it is very slow acting.

I checked out the Garden Web forums on porcelain vine and it was full of horror stories about this plant. It might not be invasive in very dry deserts, but anywhere there is moisture it seems to survive.  I read messages from people in Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, and many other diverse places. There was even a good photo posted on one site which showed what the vine had done on a vacant piece of property over a 30 year period. link

The best way to kill the plant is to use triclopyr. This is a chemical manufactured by Dow Chemical and formulated by many other companies. Triclopyr is often mixed with other weed control chemicals ... Lesco, Scotts, Home Depot among many others.

Although triclopyr can be sprayed on the plant I suspect that a better way to do the job is to cut the vine fairly near the ground and treat the trunk. The way that you do this is paint the bark with the material which when mixed with an oil solvent will be absorbed by the trunk and kill the plant.  Since the vine climbs you would do serious harm to the plant being climbed.

I understand this is effective for other plants as well, up to 6 inches in diameter, although I have not had the occasion to do that. I have a Momentum which has triclopry in it as a broadleaf weedkiller and found it very effective.

If you encounter porcelain vine at your local nursery, take the initiative and tell them to not sell it. There might be some parts of the country where porcelain vine is not a vigorous spreading grower. I suppose if it is in a very arid area it might not be. So far I know do not know of any area that qualifies.

I did contact a well know garden personality in Georgia about comments on his web site about Porcelain Vine, and he wrote back that he “should wash his mouth with soap” and would take care changing the web site.  This just shows what a small effort can do.  Based on what I have found on the internet there are probably hundreds of people selling this plant.  In my research I did find that it is a slow starter but once it gets going it is very hard to control. 
 Charlotte, NC 28205
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