Diligence is required to control cypress vine

Cypress vine flowers are hummingbird magnets. The vine is covered with bright red flowers filled with nectar. But every flower yields at least one seed, and the seeds scatter hither and yon, making the plant difficult to eliminate. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Cypress vine flowers are hummingbird magnets. The vine is covered with bright red flowers filled with nectar. But every flower yields at least one seed, and the seeds scatter hither and yon, making the plant difficult to eliminate. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Q: Do you have any tips for getting rid of hummingbird vine? I have been battling it for years. David Schmid, email

A: Hummingbird vine is a common name for three different plants: trumpet vine, Campsis radicans; cardinal climber, Ipomoea sloteri; and cypress vine, Ipomoea quamoclit. I imagine that’s the one you have because it reseeds aggressively. We had a couple of them that sprouted at the base of the stop sign at the end of our street. By summer’s end, they almost covered the sign. They were controlled by digging them up and then diligently pulling the seedlings that sprouted. The seedlings are easy to spot: They look like tiny propellers. If there are too many to pull, you could spray them with nonselective organic weed killer like horticultural vinegar (20% strength) or horticultural soap (not Dawn detergent, or salt or household vinegar).

Q: After being longtime Georgia residents, we are moving to south Alabama to be with our grandchildren. Our home there won’t be finished for a year, but I would like to take some sentimental plants with me, including crinum lily, Confederate rose, Christmas fern, amaryllis and snowball bush. Should I plant them at my son’s home and then dig them up when it’s time to move? A Loyal Reader, email

A: Yes, all of your plants would rather be in the ground than any other place. Since they will only be there for a year, you can crowd them closely in a spot and not worry about roots entangling each other. Try to put like plants together: shrubs with shrubs, bulbs with bulbs, etc. There’s no need to fertilize since you don’t want them to grow very much. I’m sorry you are moving. We will miss you and hope you return often.

Q: Is there anything I can use to kill Johnson grass in a natural native wildflower area that will not also kill the wildflowers? Elizabeth Truluck Neace, email

A: You can use your hands, your back and your legs. Johnson grass is an aggressive grass introduced from the Mediterranean. It spreads by underground rhizomes. If you dig under the plant, you will see the rhizomes move in all directions. Grab one, pull it up, and follow it to the end. Discard it, grab the next one and do the same. Lather, rinse and repeat. If this is too much physical work, you could paint each Johnson grass stalk with a diluted mixture of glyphosate. This herbicide travels to the roots and kills the whole plant. Since glyphosate is neutralized by soil, it will not move to your native wildflowers.

Email Walter at georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for his latest tips.

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