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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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Friday - February 29, 2008

From: Manchaca, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Possibility of using vinegar solutions for weed control
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is your suggestion about the control of weeds - do you consider vinegar solutions environmentally friendly?

ANSWER:

The purpose and focus of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to promote the care and continuation of plants native to North America. We neither advise for nor against the use of any herbicide or pesticide. If you would be interested in the research being done by agricultural scientists, go to this United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Resource Services website on Organic Weed Control with Vinegar. Another article you might be interested in reading is this Washington State University extension site on Acetic Acid as Herbicide. Both of these articles point out that common household vinegar is 5% acetic acid; effectiveness in killing plants generally requires a higher percentage of acetic acid, up to 20%. At that strength, if it is to be sold as an herbicide, it must be appropriately labelled, with cautions regarding use of protective clothing while using high concentrations of vinegar. Skin irritaion from contact, lung irritation from fumes and very severe and permanently damaging eye irritations from splashes all are possible. And, of course, it is no more selective than any other herbicide. Spray it on a weed, let it splash on a prized flower, and both may be gone.

Just as a personal opinion, honestly, we feel that if you're going to go all that trouble and bend over to carefully spray just the leaves of the offending weed, wouldn't it be just as well (and possibly less dangerous both to yourself and the environment) to just pull the darn thing out?

 

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