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

Wednesday - May 13, 2009

From: Victoria, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning, Trees
Title: Problem with crapemyrtle shoots in Victoria, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a problem with crepe myrtle shoots coming up in my flowerbed. I had to remove a large crepe myrtle tree (18" diameter stump) and digging out the stump was not possible. I killed the stump with diesel poured into holes drilled into the base; however shoots keep coming up from the root system which is extensive. I have tried weed killer which kills the shoots, but new ones replace them almost immediately. What can I do? Help.

ANSWER:

Now you know one of the reasons the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends only plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Lagerstroemia indica, (crapemyrtle) is native to temperate and tropical Asia, including, among others, China, Bangladesh, and Nepal. We have heard many complaints about the messiness of the plant, the sap dripping onto cars and people (usually because the tree is infested with aphids), and, of course, its invasiveness, which is what you are experiencing. We frankly had never tried pouring diesel into a stump to kill it, glad you survived the experience, and it appears the roots survived, too. Here is what we suggest for getting rid of a plant that won't go away voluntarily. We don't like to recommend herbicides, but this is an extreme case. Get a small bottle of glyphosate systemic herbicide, which is sold under several brand names. Get some disposable paintbrushes. Now, try to trim some more off the stump, all the way across, and paint that new area, right away, with the herbicide. You need to do it quickly, because within 5 minutes the tree (which obviously still has live roots) will be healing itself over to prevent the entry of that herbicide into the root system. Each time a new shoot comes up, either cut it and paint it with more of the herbicide, or try to dig it out down to the root. The root has a lot of nutrients stored up in it and is one of the survival tactics of plants, but the roots also need leaves to get the sunshine for photosynthesis and manufacture more food. It will take some time and patience but eventually the roots will starve and give up and die. You may also be experiencing some seedlings coming up; remember those ugly seed pods all over the tree? Pull those out while they are still small enough to get roots and all.

And, above all-be careful with that herbicide! Don't let it get on the ground if you can help it, and don't spray. You don't want to contaminate the soil where you will probably wish to plant something else (if the diesel hasn't already done so), and you sure don't want spray drift to damage some plants you already have. 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Native plant to replace invasive non-native nandina in Houston
February 28, 2010 - I'm just now finding out that Nandinas are an invasive species from our local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. I have three of them in my front yard and want to replace them. Can you sug...
view the full question and answer

Houseplant identification
October 15, 2014 - Had a houseplant with leaves that were green on the top and purplish on the bottom. The leaves were velvety to the touch. Would like to know what it was.
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native house plant, probably Coleus
September 16, 2007 - What would cause the new leaves of a house plant to be solid green? When I bought it, the original leaves were almost like a "tie-dye" fabric (green,yellow,orange, and red).
view the full question and answer

Bulletproof plants from Burleson TX
April 18, 2013 - I recently wrote you a question concerning planting a privacy plant consisting of wax leaf ligustrum on my country property. Your answer was immediate (thank you-I am impressed). I like the wax leaf ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Miscanthus sinensis grass in Lewes DE
May 11, 2010 - I have morning light ornamental grass, which was just three days ago. The ends of the grass are shriveling up and appear to be dying; why is this?
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