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

Thursday - June 11, 2009

From: Golden Valley, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Control of invasive non-native Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What can I do to control garlic mustard that has moved into my wild area and what should I plant to combat this aggressive plant? Ostrich ferns, Pagoda dogwoods and emerald hemlocks have been recommended.

ANSWER:

Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) is an invasive introduced European species that is on numerous Federal and State Noxious Weeds lists. The Plant Conservation Alliance recommends removing the entire plant (roots included) when the population isn't too large and you want to protect desirable native plants from possible harm from herbicides.  With larger populations cutting the plants right above ground level before seed set is another possibility.  This will have to be continued throughout the growing season to keep the plants from going to seed.  In either case, the plants should be removed from the area and destroyed.  If the population is very large, it can be controlled with careful application of glyphosate herbicide.  Please read the details of control measures in the Plant Conservation Alliance link.

Of the three possiblities for a plant to combat the garlic mustard— Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock), Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf or pagoda dogwood), and Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern)—I would think that the ostrich fern would be most effective.   First of all, the hemlock and dogwood are relatively slow growing and require space between plants to grow—a ground space that the garlic mustard would happily occupy.  The ostrich fern plants can grow close together and; indeed, the ostrich fern is not recommended for small spaces because it is aggressive and tends to take over.  You certainly could have the ferns growing under and around either or both trees above if you would like to have the trees.


 

More Non-Natives Questions

Why aren't the Caesalpinia species in the Native Plant Database
June 07, 2013 - Why doesn't the Wildflower Center list Caesalpinia in its plant database? I grow 3 species in my garden with no coddling: C. mexicana, C. gilliesii, and C. pulcherrima. I underst...
view the full question and answer

Invasive, non-native Cirsium arvense in Michigan
September 07, 2008 - I have identified that I have growing abundantly "Canada Thistle";the noxious and invasive. I know this to be true because where it grows nothing else grows; not even the native weeds. I want to get...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for non-native Sago palms in Austin
November 28, 2010 - We have two pillars, one on each side of our front door. There is a sago palm in front of each pillar. It is a dramatic and beautiful look, but the palms, facing north and in shade, are growing so tha...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen hedge for constant rain
June 24, 2008 - We live in Washington State up north by Canadian border. We need a hedge that will survive the constant rain. We have tried cedar. They seem to turn brown and die,one at a time so we keep replacing th...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native indoor plants
October 20, 2007 - My cousin in Pa. asked me to see how to care for 2 plants in the winter. The first is a Voo Doo Lily and the second is a Bengal Tiger plant. If you would please help I would be able to pass it along...
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