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

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


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?


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)


More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Need plants to replace cedars on a 40 degree slope in Boerne, TX.
August 28, 2012 - My backyard is a roughly 40 degree slope that is covered with cedars. The slope is basically all rock, what can I grow here to replace the cedar which drink too much water. I would still like the area...
view the full question and answer

Flowers for an August wedding in Driftwood TX
March 25, 2012 - For an August 4th wedding in Driftwood, Texas we want fragrant flowers and wildflowers that we can grow in our garden. We have four raised beds (12 ft. x 6 ft.) in a fenced area in which we've grown ...
view the full question and answer

Is Evolvulus nuttallianus native to Central Texas and Deer Resistant?
June 11, 2015 - The website doesn't have much information about blue daze (Evolvulus nuttallianus. Is this plant native to Central Texas? Is it deer-resistant?
view the full question and answer

Trimming bloom stalks of iris
April 15, 2008 - Mr. Smarty: I live in Nevada, and have some very beautiful Iris plants. They have all blossomed and now I am left with stems. Is there any way I can cut them back so they blossom again? If so how shou...
view the full question and answer

Germinating Milkweed Seeds
January 23, 2015 - When is the best time to plant milkweed seeds outside? I was told when the overnight temperature hits 70 F. (our garden is in Lakeway, Texas). So around late May? Is this when the seeds germinate i...
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