En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - June 13, 2007

From: Warwick, RI
Region: Northeast
Topic: Transplants, Wildflowers
Title: Invasiveness of native Viola sororia
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in Warwick, RI and have a section of my backyard overgrown with common blue violets. My husband and I would like to relocate them to a more scenic location if possible. The advice the cooperative extension gave us was that the violets were a weed and invasive and we should permanently remove them. Since it's the state flower and a native species, it seems there should be some common ground between having an entire yard of violets and a nice controlled area of violets.

ANSWER:

We would be surprised if not shocked - certainly dismayed - to learn that your state's cooperative extension service is calling your official state flower (also the state flower of New Jersey) a weed and recommending its removal. Rhode Island's state flower, Viola sororia (common blue violet), is a widely distributed native of the eastern half of the United States. While this species is included on some weed lists, it doesn't seem right to consider your own official flower an enemy of the state; especially when it is a native there. As for being invasive, how does one invade one's own home?

Climbing down for a moment from our soapbox, we will admit that common blue violet does often make itself at home in shady lawns. They drive many gardeners to distraction - those who want the perfect, manicured look in their mostly non-native, often invasive lawn grass.

Transplant your violets in early fall in your area. They prefer partial shade, but will perform in fairly dense shade. Full sun locations will not work for woodland violet species.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Winter preparation for wildflowers
October 22, 2009 - My first attempt at my wild flower garden is successful. I planted a box of perennial seeds, so I don't know what type of plants I actually have. My concern is what to do once the temperature drop...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for a pond in MO
September 10, 2011 - I have a spring fed pond in Missouri and would like to plant perennial wildflowers in the area around it. Are there any that would do better or others that are not recommended? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Digging wild buttercup from roadside in Mechanicsville MD
May 28, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, is it illegal to dig out wild buttercup in Maryland? I see them along the dirt road or just in the ditch. Since buttercup considered weed, I'm wondering what the law say about this...
view the full question and answer

Should Rock Harlequin stay green all winter?
May 28, 2014 - I have a rock harlequin that came up in a area that had been disturbed. It came up last summer/fall and the foliage survived our tough winter. I can not find anything about this plant staying green al...
view the full question and answer

Native wildflowers and grasses for sunny field in Nashville, TN
October 09, 2005 - I want to plant wildflowers in a sunny field (old pasture land) in Nashville, Tennessee. I plan on killing the existing weeds and tall grasses with roundup this fall and planting native grasses (wha...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center