Russian Vine

Russian Vine is a form of plant that can be found in many parts of the world. They have medicinal properties and grow in the same locations year after year. Stinging nettle stems and leaves are coated in structures that resemble hairs but are soft and hollow.

This blog post will provide an in-depth guide on what Russian Vine are, how they grow, and how to eradicate them from your garden.

Quick Facts

Common names: Bukhara fleece flower, Chinese fleece vine, mile-a-minute and silver lace vine
Scientific name: Fallopia baldschuanica
Family: Polygonaceae
Origin: native
Flowering season: August to September
Habitat: hedgerows, climbing over fences and abandoned buildings
Russian vine climbing over fences and infesting an area easily
Russian vine climbing over fences and infesting an area easily

Russian Vine Identification

Russian vine is a perennial, meaning it will come back annually and can be identified by its wavy leaves.

It is also fast-growing and will choke anything that is growing in its path, meaning it will overtake your garden.

Commonly known by gardeners as ‘mile-a-minute’ due to its fast growth rate.

Russian vine, aka Bukhara fleece flower, is very similar to Japanese knotweed with it being in the same Fallopia family of plants. Therefore, it is easily mistaken for Japanese knotweed.

Russian vine is perhaps the most similar to Japanese knotweed in purely biological terms. It is the same genus and can even pollinate the female Japanese knotweed (though this rarely results in a viable hybrid).

Whilst its flowering structure and masses of green leaves the vine is a climbing plant that relies on other structures, be it plants or buildings, to grow upwards.

It outcompetes native species by growing over shrubs and trees, shading them out. Due to this climbing ability, it can also kill other plants, and damage power and telephone lines, and boundary structures with its weight.

What does Russian Vine look like?

Characteristics that make up the Russian Vine leaf, stem, root and flower are detailed below.

Fallopia baldschuanica, also known as Russian Vine or Mile a Minute Plant, is an extremely easy plant to grow, so easy that it is invasive. This climber is incredibly active; in actuality, it can be wild and difficult to handle.

Russian Vine flourishes in organic soils, which is why it does so well in wooded areas and forests where the soil is looser.

Fallopia baldschuanica - Russian vine leaves
Fallopia baldschuanica – Russian vine leaves

Leaves: You will often find them with bright green leaves and these plants also have square stems that are opposite in appearance, which means they are very dense and close to one another.

Like knotweed, it also has spade-shaped leaves and grows at an exponential rate. Growing up to lengths of about 10 centimetres.

As the plant matures you can see the leaf tips turning into a reddish-brown shade, this happens as autumn approaches when it starts to die off for winter.

It is easy to confuse this weed for a common dandelion, but the leaves of a Russian vine will be opposite whereas those of a dandelion tend to form rosettes!

The leaves of the Russian vine are opposite and small, in their early stages, they have a yellow colour to them. As they mature you will notice red-brown tips on the leaf ends as well as black seed pods that look like little clubs.

Russian vine stems winding their way up other plants
Russian vine stems winding their way up to other plants

Stems: When you look at Russian vine stems they are thin and green with purple lines on them.

Roots: Russian vine roots are white and fibrous with a pinkish tinge to them. These long deep taproots will grow horizontally so that it is difficult to get rid of the weed by pulling!

Russian vine white flowers growing in clusters
Russian vine white flowers growing in clusters

Flowers: Russian vine flowers are white or yellow in colour and have five petals.

It flowers in August and September and these flowers are also small and white, which is like Japanese Knotweed.

Seeds: Russian vine seeds are long and thin with a kind of wavy edge. They will have a brown to black outer layer, but the inside is clear yellow or green in colour.

The seed pods on this vine vary from light brown to nearly black in contrast colours but they always look like little clubs.

As the plant matures you can see red-brown tips on the leaf ends as well as black seed pods.

This weed also produces smaller white balls called achenes which can easily be blown by the wind!

Fallopia baldschuanica - Russian vine leaf in winter with frost
Fallopia baldschuanica – Russian vine leaf in winter with frost

Russian Vine Seasonal Changes

These weed flowers in late summer before dying back for winter but come early spring they will grow again from their roots.

Russian Vine in Spring

In the springtime, this weed may look more like grass or clover with new blades of green that are smooth to touch!

Russian vine in summer with its flowers in full bloom
Russian vine in summer with its flowers in full bloom

Russian Vine in Summer

Russian vine is primarily a summer weed. It spreads by its seeds, so the best way to get rid of it in your garden is to pull them out before they have time to produce achenes which will then spread the seed long distances.

They are also susceptible during this season and can be killed with synthetic or organic herbicides such as glyphosate!

Russian Vine in Autumn

Russian vine is most potent in the autumn and can be identified by its purple or red berries.

Fallopia baldschuanica - Russian vine leaves in winter
Fallopia baldschuanica – Russian vine leaves in winter

Russian Vine in Winter

Russian vine is prevalent in the winter and can be identified by its purple or red berries. This weed will grow very tall and difficult to remove as it spreads prolifically.

Knotweed canes in the winter have a very similar appearance to bamboo, which is often why it is not spotted during this time.

How to get rid of Russian Vine

To kill a Russian vine, you’ll need to use a combination of mechanical and chemical methods. It’s best to kill it in the early fall, as soon as the temperatures start to drop because that’s when plants are most vulnerable to systemic herbicide harm.

Method One – Herbicide Treatment

To get rid of this, you are going to need a chemical herbicide that has glyphosate such as Roundup! 

The best time to get rid of Russian vine is when they are small weeds – before they flower and produce berries! If you miss that window then the herbicide glyphosate will do its job on these weeds but may not be able to kill them all so make sure you keep an eye out for new ones popping up again after spraying.

The best times to spray are when the weeds start growing in early spring (around March) and again at the end of summer before harvest season starts (usually around September).

This will help prevent weed growth during these periods. If you wait until after harvest then there is a greater chance that plants may grow due to rain or irrigation water.

Cut the vines with a pair of lopping shears, 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) above ground level.

Paint each cut vine with a small paintbrush dipped in a glyphosate-based systemic herbicide immediately after you make each cut. Waiting longer than 30 seconds will severely reduce the effectiveness of the herbicide application.

I recommend hiring a professional if you can afford it as they know what herbicide works best for your lawn or garden space area and any other measures needed – such as applying more than one round of treatment- necessary to get rid of this pest!

If not, I would suggest spraying every two weeks until October with an organic liquid type herbicide.

Method Two – Digging it out

Pulling up or digging up vines is best done when the soil is moist. The goal is to remove as many of the below-ground roots, bulbs, tubers or rhizomes as possible. Done regularly, this is a great way to deal with occasional seedlings and light infestations.

To begin, aggressively prune the plant to just a few feet above ground level. Removing all of the top growth will make it weaker and easier to maintain. Digging out the roots is your best bet if you’re seeking an organic remedy. Keep a watch out for any regrowth, which should also be eliminated in the same manner.

Aeration is essential to get rid of Russian vine, as it uses the oxygen in the soil and prevents healthy plant roots from growing.

Fallopia baldschuanica - Russian vine perrenial invasive weed
Fallopia baldschuanica – Russian vine perennial invasive weed

Russian Vine Management

To ensure the Russian vine does not come back, you need to monitor it during the summer months and act swiftly.

Cut the climbing vines away from the tree or structure that they cling to with a pair of sharp pruning shears.

Monitor the area for regrowth around the cut stumps. Spray or paint the regrowth with a systemic herbicide before it reaches 30 cm (1 foot) in height.

Dig up the Russian vine’s roots, if desired, the following growing season when no more regrowth occurs.

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In Conclusion

Russian Vine is a tough plant but with this guide outlining all areas for attack, we hope you’re ready to fight back against this enemy before they get too far into your garden again!

Russian Vine is a very adaptable weed that grows in our gardens today and is one of the most resistant. However, using one of the products mentioned below will eliminate it.