En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Wednesday - March 19, 2014

From: Davidsonville, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shrubs
Title: Getting rid of non-native, invasive English Ivy from Davidsonville MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Just moved and need to rid the well established Ivy planted on the steep slope area around the back and side of the house as it is taking over the bushes on the top and trees in forested area at bottom of the ten foot high slope. What is best removal method(s) on a slope? And what is best low to ground groundcover for a forested slope area near the house to stop soil erosion, in Davidsonville, MD? Would like easy, hardy, pretty, evergreen. Thinking vinca minor?? Or perhaps something with berries for birds? Help!

ANSWER:

Hedera helix, English Ivy, is native to Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. This article from the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group pretty much covers all the ways we know of to combat the plant. None of them are permanent, especially if there is a stand of the plant still adjacent to your property. You will have to watch for it all the time, as it can regrow from just a small cutting left on the ground.

We recommend using a disposable sponge brush and paint the herbicide on the cut root quickly - within five minutes of cutting - because the stem will try to heal over quickly to protect the roots, which is exactly what you are trying to kill. DO NOT spray the herbicide nor wipe any of it on the tree trunk you are trying to rescue. The herbicide might not succeed in killing the whole tree, but then, we don't want to find out, do we?

Now, what do we think about vinca minor?  Vinca minor is a species of flowering plant native to central and southern Europe, from Portugal and France north to the Netherlands and the Baltic States, east to the Caucasus, and also southwestern Asia in Turkey. It is sometimes found to be invasive in parts of North America. You would be trading one non-native, invasive plant for another. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which they are being grown; in your case, Anne Arundel Co., Maryland. 

We are finally able to recommend a plant that we have been hunting a home for quite a while - mostly because we love its name - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick). However, if you follow that plant link to our webpage on it, you will find it is evergreen, low-growing, can do well in full sun, part shade and shade, and has berries on it for the birds. This is not a lawn plant, but then, neither is English ivy nor vinca minor. It is native to Maryland and sturdy in all weather. Notice the third picture from our Image Gallery, below, with the nice green leaves peeking out of snow.

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

More Groundcovers Questions

Native ground cover for Houston
March 02, 2009 - I'm interested in finding native ground cover, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a steep slope along Soldiers Creek. Currently there is Jasmine, ivy, prairie spiderwort...
view the full question and answer

Source for Dichondra from Hillsboro TX
November 26, 2012 - Where can I get dichondra and info about it?
view the full question and answer

Oxalis drummondii as ground cover
May 11, 2007 - We live in Austin, Texas. A sunny, dry swath of grass (originally St. Augustine) has been invaded by pink wood-sorrel (a large-leafed, mounding kind). I love the wood-sorrel, and would like to use it ...
view the full question and answer

Horseherb for ground cover in Dallas
September 19, 2009 - When considering horseherb as a ground cover for a large area; are there disadvantages to sowing seed versus planting established plants? If not, what time of year is best to sow horseherb?
view the full question and answer

Need plants to grow between flagstones in Vista, CA.
February 06, 2012 - Hi, I have put in a flagstone patio set in DG. The DG is creating a very sandy messy surface on the flagstone, so want to plant a low ground cover between the joints. Its a fairly large area, in sun...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center