Kudzu has taken over many parts of the U.S. particularly the warmer southern areas. It quickly covers trees, buildings, fences and telephone poles. It spreads at a rate of 120,000 acres a year, killing tree, shrubs and other plants that lay in its wake. And for those not familiar with the plant and its spreading abilities, it can cover small creeks and ravines, creating a deadly trap for animals and people.
“Kudzu is an annoying vine that can grow as much as a foot in 24 hours,” says Lance Walheim; garden expert, who wrote the book “Lawn Care for Dummies.” Walheim states, “If left unmanaged, it can take over and choke trees that have taken decades to grow.”
Often times, these plants that later create havoc, were innocently brought to this country. In 1876, the Japanese introduced the Kudzu vine to the United States at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. In the 1930s, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service decided the vine helped prevent soil erosion and developed 85 million kudzu seedlings. The government then offered farmers $8 an acre to plant the vine. Little did they know the havoc this would cause in later years.
In the 1940s, an Atlanta newspaper columnist and radio host named Channing Cope started Kudzu Clubs and called it the “miracle vine.” Yes, there are positive aspects to growing Kudzu, but the uncontrollable spread of the plant far outweighs any positive plant properties and its growth in the United States.
As the plant overtook other plants and property, The U.S. Department of Agriculture took a new stand and in 1972 declared kudzu a weed. The National Park Service says this weed causes more than $100 million a year in damage.
How can you kill kudzu before it takes over your yard?
- Dig up and burn any small plant you see.
- Never trade this plant with another person in any state in the US. Many people find this a fascinating plant and will do plant trades, but you cannot control it so please leave this invasive plant alone. Many states have also outlawed it.
- There are several strong weed killers that will kill kudzu, as well as poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac. If you use weed killers you want the mixtures that also kill the roots.
I use the dig and burn method in my yard. I really am not an insecticide user. But all gardeners have different methods and Kudzu is a difficult plant to remove.