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

Tuesday - July 07, 2009

From: Hilliard, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Compost and Mulch, Propagation, Trees
Title: Eliminating suckers from roots of Moraine locust in Hilliard, OH
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We removed a large Moraine Locust tree and also the stump. Now little trees from the roots are coming up. How do we get rid of these so something else can be planted?

ANSWER:

Moraine locust is apparently a patented selected cultivar of Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust). The cultivar lacks the thorns that are so vicious on the original plant, have smaller seed pods and therefore less mess on the ground. They are susceptible to several pests and diseases and can become a weed problem and invasive. Obviously, you already know that since you have had it cut down. Now to get rid of the suckers that are still coming up. They are the plant's last-ditch struggle to survive, which is every organism's primary purpose.  Those "little trees" coming off the roots are, in effect, branches the roots are putting out to get some leaves growing to manufacture food for the roots through photosynthesis. The roots are a storage area for nutrients and will continue to try to stay alive. Of course, you want to nip off those suckiers as soon as they stick their heads up. Eventually, if you got them all, the roots would starve, but this could take a while. 

So, take the battle to the root. Get a bottle of wide-spectrum herbicide and some disposable foam paintbrushes. Dig down to where you can get at the main root. Cut off a slice of that root, exposing a fresh surface. Quickly, within five minutes, before the tree can begin to heal itself, paint the raw surface with the herbicide. This should go down into the circulatory system of the root and begin to kill it. This will also take a while, depending on how much root there is. If you are really determined, you could dig down and locate some more roots going out from the main stump and treat them the same way. Be very careful with the herbicide, avoid spilling it on the ground and contaminating the soil, and don't use spray. A spray could easily stray onto another, more valuable plant, and cause more damage than you intended. Hopefully, this will stop the development of the suckers and permit you to begin planting in the fall. We would also suggest that you remove as much of the root from the ground as possible, and then work some compost into the bed before starting to put in new plants. 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Pictures of Bastard Cabbage from Dallas TX
April 07, 2012 - HI! Re your March 12 posting: The USDA Plants website pictures two very different looking plants identified as Rapistrum rugosum (bastardcabbage). Would you please post a photo with leaf and bloom ...
view the full question and answer

Oxalis crassipes identification
July 23, 2007 - I'm trying to identify a plant that has appeared in several containers on my balcony. The largest plant is about a foot tall, with triangular leaves, small white flowers with yellow centers, and has...
view the full question and answer

When should I plant bermuda grass seeds?
February 10, 2010 - When should I plant bermuda grass seeds?
view the full question and answer

Non-native zoysia and bermuda grasses in Austin
July 11, 2013 - We have Bermuda grass in the front and Zoysia in the back yards. The back grass is fine but the front yard Bermuda isn't. We have watered once each week during the spring and during the past 3 weeks...
view the full question and answer

Another plant with ice plant as the common name from Corpus Christi
June 17, 2010 - This is not a question, but your "ice plant" answer to El Cajon did not consider Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, which I believe is the common roadside succulent that ate California. God have mercy ...
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