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

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 Pruning Questions

Failure of older branches on Bauhinia lunarioides to thrive
April 27, 2008 - We planted a sapling of the Anacacho Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) winter (Jan, Feb?) and now it has leaves and blooms - but only off of new branches near its trunk, as the old branches haven't ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of Aster ericoides in Philadelphia
March 20, 2010 - Should I cut back my Aster ericoides, ‘schneegitter’ in the spring?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Podocarpus macrophyllus in Ft Worth TX
November 12, 2011 - I know this question does not pertain to a native plant but I've spent too much time not finding an answer to my question. I have many mature Podocarpus macrophyllus bushes at my house I purchased in...
view the full question and answer

Sad Germanders in Johnson City Texas
September 16, 2011 - I have some grey bush germanders that never seem to do well although they did at first when I planted them four years ago. They have sun and dappled shade on the south side of the house. A friend in ...
view the full question and answer

Protecting storm-damaged pecan and black walnut trees in TX
June 29, 2015 - Several trees on our property in northeast Texas were uprooted by a tornado. A pecan tree with a circumference greater than 93 inches was carried to the ground. Although it is completely horizontal,...
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