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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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Thursday - April 05, 2007

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Alternatives to invasive, non-native Vinca minor as ground cover
Answered by: Damon Waitt and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Central Austin. I want to plant a large area of Vinca minor since it is fast growing and offers attractive ground cover. I assume it requires little care with the rain being sufficient for it's year around water needs. My question - I have heard there is a pest (worm) that will surely damage any plants in this area. If this is true, can it easily be combatted?

ANSWER:

Introduced from Europe in 1700s, Vinca minor is an ornamental ground cover, commonly sold and planted by gardeners. Although it spreads by vegetative means only, common periwinkle poses a threat to native plants and communities because it grows vigorously, forming a dense monotypic evergreen groundcover that displaces and excludes most other plants, including native wildflowers.

As an alternative, Mr Smarty Plants recommends you look into planting Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) which has cordate leaves, white twin flowers, and red berries or Gelsemium sempervirens (evening trumpetflower) which has wider spaced leaves and reddish stems, often white and waxy.


Mitchella repens

Gelsemium sempervirens

 

 

 

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