Climbers out of control

Page last updated: Thursday, 11 December 2014 - 8:05am

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Removing unwanted climbers

Rogue climbers sometimes have to be removed. In some cases, glyphosate will kill, though it may take repeat applications. Some people prune first but this is counter-productive, since glyphosate works more effectively if there is plenty of foliage.

Ivy is almost impossible to remove entirely. Glyphosate will brown the foliage but not necessarily kill the plant. Cut through stems at about waist height to kill the growth above, to make it easier to pull down. Digging out roots may take years. Madeira vine and bridal creeper are virtually impossible to eradicate because tubers will remain in the soil.

If a climber is too high to reach easily or has entered a roof, get it removed by a specialist who has adequate insurance in case of accident. With a climber growing on a neighbours’ property, all you can do is tell the owners if it causes problems. Even if they are sympathetic, they may have difficulty removing the plant.

Unwanted climbers or any other garden material should never be dumped in bushland or taken to the tip in an open trailer from which seeds or cuttings could drop onto roadsides. Put prunings in the bin or on the verge if a green waste collection is imminent.

Climbers in our changing lifestyle

High density housing is increasing. Often this means outdoor space is reduced to a tiny courtyard or just a balcony. People moving from an old quarter acre block to a unit, townhouse or apartment may be tempted to bring cuttings from their previous garden or to buy the same plants, to create a feeling of familiarity.

This morning glory vine has climbed a fence and is now creeping onto the home's roof
This morning glory vine has climbed a fence and is now creeping onto the home's roof

Climbers especially should be scrutinised before being introduced to a restricted space. Planting them in containers may be an option, but still you should monitor their speedy spread into the next door courtyard or over the balcony and into the visual space of the residents below. Bear in mind also that vigorous plants often resent confinement and may protest by cracking their pots or sending roots into drains.

Trustworthy climbers

Fortunately, plenty of climbers provide decent coverage without overwhelming. They include jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum and J. azoricum), Brazilian jasmine (Mandevilla sanderi), star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), white potato creeper (Solanum jasminoides), running postman (Kennedia prostrata), snail creeper (Phaseolus caracalla), snake vine (Hibbertia scandens), rata vine (Metrosideros diffusa), purple coral pea (Hardenbergia violacea), bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae), and many more. Ask your nursery or garden centre staff to recommend the climber that is most suitable for your garden or outdoor space.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080