Killing Wild Clematis

Q: I have a problem with wild clematis. It has completely covered the area where I used to have a large flower bed. It dies back in the winter but right now it is climbing behind my siding, up the downspout, and making that end of my porch unusable. How can I kill it without hurting the flowers?

A: Your vine is Clematis virginiana, sometimes called Devil’s Darning Needle due to the shape of its feathery seeds. A single vine can grow twenty feet in a year. For your situation, use hedge clippers or a machete to cut back the rampant growth. For such selective control, it would be best to cut the vine a few inches above ground level and then paint the stump with glyphosate. The vine will suck the chemical down a foot or so into its root system and kill it. The flower roots nearby won’t be harmed. The vine may resprout weakly next spring. The sprouts can be chopped off with a hoe.

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