PO Box 404, Brooklyn, CT 06234

Advanced Search

Donate | Join


My Personal War with Bittersweet!

- By Dennis Hodgin

As the title suggests, I have been waging an ongoing campaign with that cute, (from some people’s viewpoint) invasive vine called Asiatic Bittersweet. Thirty years ago, when I moved into my very rural neighborhood in West Stafford, Connecticut, the neighbor that lived about 300 feet away from my house had a small Bittersweet stand that grew over several of their small trees and hung nicely over the road. I barely noticed it and certainly did not realize at the time what a monster it would become in the neighborhood!

It first got my full attention about 3 years ago when I started tearing down an old barn. There were vines nearly 2 inches in diameter that had climbed a very large ash tree and it took chains and a farm tractor to pull most of them out of the ground and off the tree. Much to my dismay, new vigorous bittersweet shoots came up literally everywhere several months after regrading and seeding the site. To add insult to injury, the vines grew like crazy and just reappeared after I used the weed whacker to remove the new growth. As I found out later, my “pruning” had actually stimulated the remaining and obviously extensive residual root system.

OK – time to apply to some science!
Information I received from the UCONN Extension Center suggested the correct approach was cut back the vines in mid-summer, then spray the re-growth with the herbicide “Roundup” in September. The theory is that the sap bound for the roots in preparation for the winter takes the herbicide along with it. I have tried this approach and it seems to be working for me. Expect some follow-up treatment the following year as the residual root system covers a very large area and you must kill it all to get rid of the vine completely.

I suggest you buy the Roundup “Brush Killer” concentrate and dilute to the instructions on the container. It is rather expensive - $30 to 40 to make 5 gallons of spray. Be very careful with over spray as it will kill just about everything it touches. A visit to the roundup.com website for additional information is a good idea.

Roundup general info:

  • Roundup is a non-selective, systemic weed & grass killer. It kills all types of weeds & grasses, roots and all.
  • When you spray Roundup on a weed, it's absorbed throughout the plant, where it prevents the plant from making its own food.
  • Roundup is transported throughout the weed to kill the entire weed - roots & all.
  • Dead weeds can't re-grow. Once in the soil, Roundup breaks down over time into natural materials and will not move in the ground to affect nearby, untreated plants.

I am currently working to eradicate my second Bittersweet patch as this is the time of the year to do it. I hope this article helps you, and I wish you luck with your own efforts to eliminate Bittersweet!

This article originally appeared in the September 2002 ECFLA/WDLT Newsletter.

HOME | Membership | Articles | | Links | Search | Contact us

If you have comments on how this website can be improved, or experience problems with broken links, etc., please contact Rob Viani
© Copyright 2003 ECFLA. All rights reserved. Website last updated on April 10, 2012 .
Website design by Chimalis LLC.