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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - January 14, 2014

From: Los Angeles , CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Help with non-native plants in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am growing some beads of pearl in my front yard in front of a pepper tree that has been around for over 150 years. My question is what can I do to get my beads of pearl to grow without cutting down the tree. If you have suggestions I would appreciate it. Also are there any products that you could recommend to protect the beads of pearl from the toxins of the tree? Thanks

ANSWER:

First of all:  "The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes."  "Native" means native to North America.  The two plants you mention in your question are NOT native to North America.  Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls) is native to southwestern Africa and Schinus molle (Peruvian or California Pepper Tree) is native to Peru.  Since our focus and expertise are plants native to North America, this means you are asking the wrong source for help with your problems of growing String of Pearls.  Probably your best source would be contacting the University of California Agricultural Extension Los Angeles County.  They work with many different types of plants—crop plants, urban horticulture, and garden cultivars—most of which are not native.  Two of their divisions—Center for Landscape and Urban Horticulture and Gardening with the UC Master Gardening Program—might be the most useful.   The Master Gardening program gives an e-mail address where you can ask questions about gardening.  Additionally, if you search online using the scientific names of the two plants, you will find a wealth of information about both of them there.

 

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