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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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Saturday - October 25, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives
Title: Getting rid of giant ragweed in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I get rid of a large field of giant ragweed? Part of the site is a steep slope, which is difficult to mow. I want to encourage native grasses but they are crowded out by the ragweed.

ANSWER:

The best information we could get on Ambrosia trifida var. texana (Texan great ragweed) after doing some research is to allow perennial plants to crowd out this annual. Yeah, right.

So, here's the plan. Get them before they go to seed. And really get them-either cut off the seeding part or pull out the whole things. They're blooming now (thus all the allergies all over town), and once they've bloomed, they set seed. Birds love the rich, oily seeds for winter food, so you're going to make some birds unhappy, but if you don't want a fresh field of new Giant Ragweed next year, those plants have got to go before the seeds ripen. This is not to say they won't come back, because the birds are going to pick up seeds in the field next to yours, and deposit them for you. But if you can slow it down to the point that you recognize them when they're young and yank them out then, long before they even produce the flowers and pollen and sneezes, then you're at least gaining. 

Most of the native grasses you are interested in are, indeed, perennials and will, given half a chance, begin to dominate the area, but the ragweed, although annual, is just so numerous that it can shade out the perennial grasses and seriously damage their growth. So, there you have it - you're going to have to do it the hard way, and mid-October is a real good time to start. If you wait until they die back in cold weather, they will have already deposited millions of seeds in the ground, and be all ready to go next year.


Ambrosia trifida var. texana

Ambrosia trifida var. texana

Ambrosia trifida var. texana

Ambrosia trifida var. texana

 

 

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