Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Shrubs Questions

Need suggestions for landscaping along a creek in Lenoir, NC
July 25, 2011 - I live in Lenoir, NC and would like to landscape my creek bank that is about 90 feet long and is 200 feet from my house. I thought about evergeen bushes maybe rhododendron; some grasses; a few trees ...
view the full question and answer

Plants that smell like chocolate from Coral Gables FL
July 12, 2012 - I am looking for plants that smell like chocolate. I live in south Florida. We are currently growing and testing Berlandiera lyrata. Do you know of other plants whose flowers smell like chocolate?
view the full question and answer

Bottlebrush buckeye not leafing out from Newburyport MA
June 11, 2013 - We have a bottlebrush buckeye bush that has grown and blossomed for 16 years. This spring the bush failed to produce any leaves and there are no buds in anticipation of leaves. There are a few smaller...
view the full question and answer

Native plant for border in central coastal Texas
September 29, 2015 - I am looking for a native plant suggestion for a border along my front porch in central coastal Texas. My site has heavy gumbo soil and strong sunlight. I want something not more than 2 or 3 feet t...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a non-native rose from Akron OH
August 30, 2012 - Can I transplant a rose plant that I have in sunny area to an area that will be partially shady?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.