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

Thursday - September 17, 2009

From: Seabrook, TX
Region: Southeast
Topic: Problem Plants, Groundcovers
Title: Aggressive Frogfruit
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

I have frogfruit voluntarily growing in my flower beds. I had intended to use it as a ground cover but am concerned that it is taking over. Will it kill (smother) my flowers that I have planted for butterflies, hummers etc?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants can relate to your concern! I had the same problem in Central Texas in a native planting in which I left some frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) already growing there to form a sort of background to the larger plants. With the spring rains, it started taking over and remained aggressive through the summer. It's pretty and is a favorite of many pollinators so I didn't want to eliminate it, but how to keep it from smothering other plants?

The Wasowskis' book Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region says that it doesn't like to be mowed, taking a long time to recover, so I cut mine back severely, hoping that it would have the same effect as mowing. I also removed colonies of it that were too close to easily-bullied plants. I probably reduced my population by half. Cutting and selective removal seemed to do the trick. The remaining plants still sent out runners, but not nearly as aggressively as before, and enough healthy frogfruit was left to continue to draw lots of small pollinators and provide a background carpet for the taller plants.

Since southeast Texas gets a lot more rain than central Texas, and frogfruit thrives on heavy moisture, what worked for me may not work for you. Your region also has two additional species of frogfruit that may respond differently than the single species we have here (Phyla fruticosa and Phyla lanceolata). If you'd like a low-growing native background plant that isn't quite as aggressive, you might try Straggler Daisy (Calyptocarpus vialis) and/or Carolina Ponyfoot (Dichondra carolinensis), both of whch you likely already have growing naturally nearby if you've got frogfruit. The former is still quite aggressive but less so than frogfruit, and the latter is very low-growing and unlikely to overwhelm anything. Both combine pleasingly with frogfruit.

 


Phyla nodiflora

Calyptocarpus vialis

Dichondra carolinensis

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Native ground cover for bare ground
April 24, 2015 - I have a 20 x 40 foot partly sunny area that has only leaves covering the bare ground. I want to replace the leaves with ground cover. Can I mix ground covers like clover, asian jasmine, etc? I would ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for cleared property in Austin
February 23, 2010 - I live in a small apartment building near 183 & 620. The land beyond the lawn has trees and has been cleared of brush. They are planning to seed the ground. I thought invasive native ground covers wo...
view the full question and answer

Ground covers for sandy hill in New York
April 12, 2006 - We have just built a new home and a sandy fill was needed around the house. It sits on a hill and the fill is very sandy. We would like to plant something to stabilize the bank that is native to the a...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating and replacing Tradescantia species
July 03, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need advice. I recently figured out my 10 month old dog is highly allergic to Tradescantia sp, commonly known as the Spiderworts, and "Wandering Jew" which covers about h...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for vineyard from Round Rock, TX
February 04, 2013 - I will be planting a vineyard in the Hill Country next spring. I am looking to maintain low-growing understory plants across the entire vineyard to maintain soil health, choosing plants that the leaf...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center