Blackberry vines difficult to control in home landscape

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Last Updated: 
February 19, 2003

As any home landscaper can tell you, blackberry vines are hard to kill. Unfortunately, these vines are also very aggressive in the way they grow, and if not controlled, will soon take over broad areas of your yard.

According to Jan McNeilan, Oregon State University Extension Service consumer horticulture agent, one reason blackberry vines are so resistant to control is that established plants spread by nodes, or small underground buds, that grow off established blackberry vine roots.

"This makes it hard to kill the vines by digging them up," said McNeilan. "No matter how much of the plant you remove, you'll miss a few nodes that will soon develop into new vines."

In addition, blackberry vines, like other berry-bearing vines, have the ability to root from the tips of stems at certain times of the year.

In early fall near the end of the spring-summer growth period, long vines arch over and wherever they hit the ground the tips of the vines take root, creating new plants that will sprout up the following spring.

So how do you control a plant that has so many ways to survive?

McNeilan suggests keeping the vines cut back to ground level, especially during the spring when the plant is most actively growing.

Cutting away the above-ground part of the vine keeps the plant from manufacturing the sugars it needs to sustain vigorous growth. Cutting vines back continually will eventually kill the plant although it may take some time.

Digging up vine roots will provide some control, but you probably won't eliminate all of the plant.

For home landscapers looking for chemical controls, McNeilan suggests glyphosate or compounds containing 2,4-D or triclopyr, but stresses that timing of application is very important and must be strictly observed for maximum effect. Glyphosate, for example, must be applied in the fall or it will be ineffective. Products intended for homeowner use that contain 2,4-D or triclopyr often have the words "brush control" or "blackberry killer" in the trade name.

Homeowners are urged to observe all label instructions and restrictions whenever handling and using any pesticide.

Author: Bob Rost
Source: Jan McNeilan