By BJ Jarvis
Pasco Extension Director and Horticulture Agent
Absent many killing freezes this winter, Skunkvine is already taking over Pasco gardens. Fast-growing and resilient, this invasive vine seems impenetrable to assaults to keep it under control.
Native to southern Asia, Skunkvine has been pestering gardeners in west-central Florida since 1897. In addition to being a major problem in native plant communities, home landscapes can be quickly over-run by Skunkvine, growing more than 25 feet in a season.
Earning its telltale name from the disagreeable odor released when crushed or broken, severed vines will regenerate when broken off. Left to flower, hundreds of seeds will develop to spread throughout the garden and beyond.
Aside from persistent hand removal, chemical herbicides may be needed. Good chemical choices contain triclopyr (such as a Brush-B-Gone type of product) or imazapic (be cautious with this long-lasting product as annuals and perennials should not be planted in treated areas for several months following application.) Repeat applications are generally needed or Skunkvine may quickly regenerate and grow out of control. Dispose of or burn all removed vine parts rather than trying to compost as the vine may persist from even small pieces.
Do you see a pattern of perseverance here? Gardeners must know that a plant that can survive flooding for over six months, then regrow, is a plant to reckon with. Best of luck eliminating this weed!
For more information about invasive garden weeds, check out the University of Florida Extension’s website at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/environment/invasive_plants.html, or call Pasco Extension at (352) 518-0474.
–BJ Jarvis is horticulture agent and director of Pasco Extension Service, a partnership between University of Florida and Pasco County.