En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Savannah holly sprouting in lawn in Oklahoma City

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 - May 24, 2009

From: Oklahoma City, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Savannah holly sprouting in lawn in Oklahoma City
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 15 year old Savannah Holly in a shrub bed. This year, seedlings have sprouted all over my front lawn. This is the first year that I have had this problem other than in the shrub bed itself. Is there a way to prevent this from occurring or kill them once it has?

ANSWER:

There are thirteen members of the genus Ilex (holly) in our Native Plant Database, but none of them have the common name "Savannah." That is probably a trade name assigned by a grower to a hybrid of North American natives Ilex cassine (dahoon) and Ilex opaca (American holly). Even though both parents are natives, the "x" indicates a hybrid, and we do not have hybrids in our Native Plant Database.

According to this USDA Forest Service website Ilex x attenuata 'Savannah', the shrub does not have invasive roots, so you are probably not seeing suckers but, as you say, seedlings. From this same website, propagation is by cuttings and grafting. This is because the plant you have is a hybrid, and seedlings would probably not breed true. This doesn't help with your problem, of course, just something to know. If you planted these hollies to attract birds with the berries, you may have done too good a job. It sounds like the birds are taking the berries out into your lawn to eat them, and then dropping seeds on the ground. If your grass is thin, it may be giving the sprouts a chance to come up. Short of pruning before berries appear on the shrub, we don't know of any way to prevent that happening, and the berries may well be one of the reasons you chose that particular plant. You're not going to want to hear this, but pulling the sprouts out before they have a chance to get much root going is about your best bet. We don't know what your lawn is, but it is probably a grass, which would be a monocot. Your holly is a dicot, or broad-leaved plant. If the problem was really getting out of hand, you could try a dicot-specific herbicide, but that's pretty extreme. We recommend neither for nor against pesticides, and hope most people use them only in situations where there is no other practical solution. If you spray a broad spectrum herbicide on the lawn, you will be able to kill the holly seedlings, the grass and any other plants in range, like the other ornamentals in your garden, trees, etc. A dicot-specific herbicide would kill the holly seedlings, but not the seeds waiting to sprout in the ground, and again, you have the problem of spray drift into other parts of your garden.

You need to ask yourself some questions. For instance, why did these berries just start sprouting this year, after the plant had been in place some time? And are you really sure these are holly seedlings you are seeing? Something else may be getting seeded into your lawn by water, wind or wildlife.  Is your lawn healthy, in which case it should be able to suppress the seedlings. Has your holly always produced a lot of berries? The plant has the best berry production in full sun; if you have cut down or trimmed a tree that has been shading that holly, the extra sun may be causing extra berry production. 

Our recommendation is to start by encouraging thicker coverage by your lawn grass, coupled with removing the seedlings as they emerge. Try that for a year or so; if it doesn't work, you will have to decide if you want to go the herbicide route or even cut down and remove the holly, the source of the fruit and seeds. 

 

 

More Turf Questions

Supplier for native lawn grass for South Texas
October 20, 2009 - Where would I buy native lawn grass for South Texas? Would it be sod or seed?
view the full question and answer

Process of converting from lawn to wildflower meadow in New Jersey
March 17, 2006 - I live in northern New Jersey and have an acre of property which is currently a grassy lawn. I would like to make a meadow where the lawn is. What is the process to convert from a lawn to a meadow? Th...
view the full question and answer

Native replacement for non-native Bermudagrass in Leander TX
October 16, 2011 - We have Bermuda grass. Large patches have died due to the drought and our yard has been taken over by weeds and St. Augustine grass whose seeds must have blown in. Even when the grass was in great con...
view the full question and answer

Roots of live oak in lawn from Round Rock TX
June 24, 2011 - I live on a cul-de-sac and have a small triangle shape yard. There is a large live oak in the middle of the yard. I am concerned because large bark covered roots have emerged on two sides of the tre...
view the full question and answer

Buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) and buffalo grass mixes
October 05, 2007 - I live in Austin, TX and have visited the Wildflower Center in the past and enjoyed the display of native grass mixes. Can you tell me about the variations of buffalograss mixes... which ones are most...
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