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?


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
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


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.


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

Bluebonnets in pots in New Caney, TX
April 25, 2009 - My mother in New Caney (Texas), would like to plant Bluebonnets in some lovely terra cotta containers on her porch (and will hopefully mail me some dried pressings of my beloved state flower). Other t...
view the full question and answer

Possible locations of fields of Forget-Me-Nots, Myosotis
March 04, 2006 - This might be kind of a weird question but me and my girlfriend have a really special thing with the forget me not wild flowers, and I will be asking her to marry me soon and would love to do it in a...
view the full question and answer

A bounty of options for planting natives in Hockley Texas
April 21, 2011 - I have about 1 acre of land in Hockley Texas, outside Houston, that we had cleared of shrubs and poison ivy. We kept the trees so there are some areas with mostly shade and some areas with partial su...
view the full question and answer

Late Blooming Wildflowers for Round Rock
August 06, 2014 - I thought this would be a previously answered question but found nothing in the data base. My question is: in Central Texas what can be grown for some color or interest in a wildflower area when the w...
view the full question and answer

How to Propagate Mexican Bush Sage in Marble Falls, Texas
September 14, 2010 - I need advice on when, how to separate Mexican bush sage. Ours is happy and HUGE but is now sprouting from the roots at the base. Since we've been so successful with this plant, we want to divide it...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center