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?

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
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

Sunday - July 27, 2008

From: Littleton, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Eradication of mahonia repens
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is the best way to kill and/or remove mahonia repens?

ANSWER:

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry) is native to Colorado, and is a stoloniferous, sprawling evergreen. It is widely praised as a low groundcover with fruit attractive to birds, and listed as a non-invasive alternative to several invasive plants. However, "invasive" is in the eye of the beholder, and we can see how having it in the wrong place in your garden could be a problem. The fact that it is stoloniferous means that it spreads like some grasses, with below-ground root systems spreading it very efficiently.

To begin, and to get a better feel for the situation, start pruning away and discarding the cuttings in such a way that no berries left on the cuttings will get a chance to propagate themselves. You're clearing the area so you can find where the plant comes up from the root. When you find that, cut it through as near to the ground as you can. Paint the newly-cut surface with an appropriate herbicide, at nearly full strength, with a disposable sponge paintbrush, within 5 minutes. The herbicide must go on the cut area quickly before it begins to "heal" itself, thus preventing the herbicide from getting down to the roots. Now, because it is stoloniferous, you still have to deal with those roots. That plant is going to be trying to survive, no matter what you do, so the more damage you can do to the roots, the better. Drive a sharp shovel into the ground and cut them, expose them and prune them, or whatever method works best for you. Grubbing out the stump and discarding it will also effectively starve any remaining roots. You will have to continue to be alert; the plant propagates by roots sending out new little plants and by seeds that may have fallen months before. Just keep pulling them out until the shrub is exhausted. The best time to do this is in the Summer, when the heat and the sun will help in your destruction.

We didn't say it was going to be easy.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Hedgerow plants non-toxic to horses
April 07, 2012 - What would be a good, fast growing, hedgerow plant that is NON-POISONOUS TO HORSES? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen hedge for Dallas-Fort Worth area
May 18, 2010 - Our red tip photina hedge is slowly succumbing to black spot and we'll need to replace it within the year. (Yes, I now understand red tips come in two varieties: diseased and about to become disease...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

How to combat weeds growing in mulch
September 12, 2008 - Trying to decide on either ground cover plants, or some type of gravel. We have a new house where the builder has planted small shrubs in the full sun flower bed next to house. The bed has mulch at th...
view the full question and answer

Small shrub to plant in Austin Texas
March 11, 2009 - Hi.. I live in Southwest Austin and I am looking for a shrub that I can plant against the back of my house, which faces the north. I want something native, fairly low maintenance and not too large,...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center