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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

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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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!

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Tuesday - October 16, 2007

From: Havasu Lake, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Landscaping in the Southern California desert.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are located in southern California in Lake Havasu. I'm trying to landscape sloping areas. I have arrow weeds (Pluchea sericea) and want to get rid of them permanently. How can I achieve this or what other plant can I use that requires low maintenance?

ANSWER:

You don't say how many (5? 100?) plants of Pluchea sericea (arrowweed) that you have and their size (they can grow as tall as 16 feet). However, your best bet, no matter how many you have or how large they are, is to cut them off and dig out the roots if you want to be rid of them permanently. Even then you will need to watch for seedlings and dig or pull them out as well. If digging out all the roots is too daunting, you might try cutting them off as close to the ground as possible and continue cutting off any new sprouts. If you are persistent in doing this, you might eventually kill them—at least you won't have their tall presence.

Here are some plants suited to your desert landscape that should work in the area in question.  I have included large (shrubs or small trees) and small (herbaceous perennials and annuals) plants.

You can search in our National Suppliers Directory for nurseries and seed companies specializing in native plants in your area.

Acacia greggii var. wrightii (catclaw acacia)

Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush)

Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush)

Ephedra trifurca (longleaf jointfir)

Psorothamnus fremontii var. fremontii (Fremont's dalea)

Purshia stansburiana (Stansbury cliffrose)

Yucca baccata (banana yucca)

Yucca schidigera (Mojave yucca)

Sphaeralcea ambigua (desert globemallow)

Lupinus sparsiflorus (Mojave lupine)

Geraea canescens (hairy desertsunflower)

Abronia villosa (desert sand verbena)

Erysimum capitatum (sanddune wallflower)

Ericameria nauseosa ssp. nauseosa var. nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush)

Eriogonum ovalifolium (cushion buckwheat)

 

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