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

Thursday - April 17, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Vines
Title: Protection from native invasive trumpet vines
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. SP: I have invaders! Trumpet vines from a neighbor's yard, two doors away have taken over and are eating my garage and trying to steal all the sun from my clematis vines. How do I get rid of the aliens without harming my desirable plants? They take root and creep everywhere. Thanks. Under Siege in Austin

ANSWER:

You do, indeed, have a problem. Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) is an aggressive, fast-growing vine that uses aerial rootlets to climb up over buildings, other plants and even layering on itself. It spreads both by suckers and by seeds, a double whammy, and you already know the damage it can do. We really hate to tell you this, but manual labor is about the only way you are going to win this one. Because one of the way it spreads is by underground roots, spraying a herbicide would not result in total elimination, and would very probably harm some desirable plants in the same area. It's going to take a two-fold attack. First, cut down everything you can get at, so it won't bloom and seed any more. Be sure and dispose of these cuttings carefully so they won't seed and spread somewhere else. Pulling those aerial rootlets away from your garage is going to be difficult, but absolutely necessary. Next, start on the suckers. Dig out, pull out or use a hatchet to eliminate as much of the root system as you can. Then, be constantly on the lookout for the suckers. Just pulling them out is not enough, because the presence of a sucker indicates the presence of yet another viable root. If the sprouting suckers are somewhere that you can mow or use a Weed-Eater, that will at least knock them down and discourage them, but you have to remember, this plant is a survivor! You say the origin of the plant is two doors away, which means they are crossing the yard next to you, as well. If you can enlist help from that neighbor in stopping the encroachment of the plant, that will be that much less to spread into your yard.

Trumpet creepers are planted for good reasons - to cover unsightly walls or chain link fences and to attract hummingbirds, both of which they do very well. And, they're not alien invaders, although it seems they are; they are actually natives of this area, which is why they do so well. But, a weed is a plant in the wrong place, and it would seem the Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) is in the wrong place in your yard!

 

More Problem Plants Questions

More on bluebonnets
March 10, 2003 - Clover has taken over and just about covered the Bluebonnets. Is there any way of removing the clover such as with fertilizer or something else?
view the full question and answer

Low Water Use Plants for a Pond Island
November 06, 2014 - We have a medium sized pond/tank with a small island covered in black willows. The pond loses a lot of water and we were told it was partially due to the willows. We want to remove them and replace ...
view the full question and answer

Aggressive native Inland Sea Oats in Whitehouse Station NJ
April 29, 2010 - Can you direct me to a source of help managing a very aggressive grass, Chasmanthium latifolia, Woodland Oats or Indian Sea Oats. It is behaving like a very noxious plant and I am concerned as I am h...
view the full question and answer

Update on controlling live oak suckers with newspapers, cardboard and mulch
September 12, 2014 - Can we get an update on the march 2011 topic of live oak suckers? I am wondering if the newspaper/cardboard/mulch layers continued to take care of the problem. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Source of Allergies in Austin, TX
June 19, 2012 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants. I live in Northwest Austin and I've been suffering from allergies since moving to Austin. The allergies seem to occur at least once a year for at least a month or two. Beg...
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