Hedge bindweed or bellbind (Calystegia sepium) with its pure white trumpet flowers is a familiar sight, choking plants in borders and twining around any plant shoot or cane. The smaller field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) with white or pink flowers can be problematic in long grass and bare soil.

Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) scrambling through shrubs.
Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) scrambling through shrubs.

Quick facts

Common and botanical names Hedge bindweed, bellbind (Calystegia sepium) and field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
Areas affected Uncultivated ground, beds, borders, paths, drives and lawns
Main causes Twining weed with creeping underground stems (rhizomes)
Timing Seen spring to autumn; treat from summer to autumn

What is bindweed?

Bindweed refers to two similar trumpet-flowered weeds, both of which

twine around other plant stems, smothering them in the process.

They are not easy to remove as they persist from a perennial root system. The roots are usually white and brittle and, if broken, are able to regenerate from the smallest sections.

Although a troublesome weed for many gardeners, bindweed flowers do provide pollen for bees and the leaves are a source of food for the larvae of convolvulus hawk moths. This page looks at options for gardeners when bindweed is becoming a problem.     


Calystegia sepium (bellbind or hedge bindweed) climbs with strong twining stems, has large heart-shaped leaves and large white trumpet flowers. It is most often seen as a hedgerow plant or weed, scrambling over and often smothering hedges and shrubs of all sizes and even smaller ornamental trees.

Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed) is a weaker-stemmed plant, with smaller white or pink trumpet-shaped flowers, but otherwise similar in appearance to bellbind. 

The problem

Bindweeds are problematic for a number of reasons;

  • Bellbind spreads mainly from sections of underground stem (rhizome) or root. The roots of bellbind may penetrate up to 5m (16ft) deep or more and spread rapidly, but most growth is from white, shallow, fleshy underground stems. Established colonies can spread outwards by 2m (6½ft) or more in a single season
  • Even very small sections are capable of producing shoot growth and can unwittingly be brought into gardens hidden among plant roots and in soils or manures
  • Bellbind produces seeds infrequently, but they can reportedly remain viable in the soil for many years
  • The roots of field bindweed are similarly deep-rooting to those of bellbind, with underground stems and shoots arising directly from the roots. Established colonies may extend outwards by 2m (6½ft) or more in a season
  • Field bindweed produces seeds freely and they can remain viable in the soil for several years


The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.

Cultural Control

  • Physical barrier: By persistent digging and hoeing it is possible to eradicate these weeds in a couple of years, although new colonies can establish from seed or from roots on neighbouring land. Because of this, and wherever feasible, it can pay to insert vertical, solid barriers (45cm/18in deep) into the soil along fences and other boundaries
  • Digging: Fork out to remove as much of the roots when carrying out any routine autumn and winter digging. In spring as new growth appears, dig out new shoots
  • Hoeing: In areas where it is not possible to dig without disturbing plant roots, sever the weed at ground level with a hoe. This will need to be repeated throughout the growing season as new growth reappears
  • Mowing: If either type of bindweed appears in a lawn, regular mowing will weaken and eventually eliminate the bindweed

Weedkiller control

The RHS does not support the use of weedkillers and recommends that alternative control methods are used. However, we do note that when gardeners struggle to control plants with cultural methods, regulated weedkillers/pesticides for home gardeners are available for use legally. Garden centres and large retailers selling weedkillers have trained staff who can advise on suitable products for your needs.

Weeds: non-chemical control

Join the RHS

Become an RHS Member today and save 25% on your first year

Join now

Gardeners' calendar

Find out what to do this month with our gardeners' calendar

Advice from the RHS

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.