Peppervine Control

Are you peppered with peppervine?  It truly is one of those obnoxious, invasive vines.  But it’s actually not that hard to eradicate.  In fact almost any weed and grass killer has been known to work on it.  But I’m an “old-guard” kind of peppervine killer and I do it with any of the well-known brush killer and vine killer herbicides.  

I actually get a lot of calls and emails wanting to know one of two distinct things about this vine.

  1. Is this Poison Ivy/Poison Oak?
  2. Is this like a wild grape vine?

The answer to both questions is NO!  The best way to determine poison ivy to this day is “LEAVES OF THREE, LET ‘EM BE” The leaf clusters on peppervine at the tip are usually made up of five leaves.  It can also seem sort of random and look much like Virginia Creeper does, too.

And interestingly enough, the peppervine is a close cousin of the grape, but this gives you whine and not wine!!  The whine is for real, because this is also called a Cow Itch Vine and while not as nasty as Poison Ivy’s itch, it can be really itchy for several moments, when you brush up against it. 

So, let’s talk about the rules of getting rid of peppervine:

  1. The simplest way is by pulling it out, but only if you see a sprig or two here and there. You need to get the tap root out.  This method requires persistence.
  2. Broadleaf Weed killers have been known to work on peppervines that crop up in yards, and that’s important, because everything else I’m going to recommend will kill the grass, too. Liquid Atrazine is well-known for knocking out Peppervines in lawns.
  3. Glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Eraser, Killzall, KleenUp & Roundup, can knock them out, but only where you can spray and not touch any green leaf surfaces of any plants nearby. So, my advice would be to sponge it on, rub it on, or paint it on as many leaves as possible.
  4. So, my logic then takes me to this — If you’re going to sponge, paint, or rub on a herbicide, you might as well get to the brush killer type herbicides that contain Tricolopyr or Imazapyr as their active ingredient. My advice is to always have a V-shaped piece of cardboard on the ready to protect any plants in the area you don’t want touched with a brush killer herbicide. If you see words like Brush & Stump, Stump Killer, Brush & Vine, just make sure the active ingredients are the ones listed above.
  5. There’s also the “Baggie Method” for vine control – (click here).  I have used this method for years exactly on peppervine and it works like a charm.  You simply fill the bottom 1/10th of a re-sealable plastic bag with undiluted brush killer herbicide; shove as much of the vine in the baggie as possible; seal it shut; hang it on a limb with a clothespin and voila! – in under two weeks the vine will have died, and you can clip the vine just outside of the bag and throw the whole thing away.
  6. In all cases of any liquid herbicide use, please add surfactant to the mix – (click here).