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 - 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

Ground cover for Orange County, California
August 05, 2012 - What ground cover do you suggest for an Orange Co., CA, backyard with a steep slope in 3-4 hours of sun? Needs to grow fast to beat the weeds. Something pretty would be nice! Thanks
view the full question and answer

Non-invasive sun ground cover for Atlanta GA
June 29, 2011 - I would like to find a non-invasive ground cover for zone 7 (Atlanta, GA) in full sun. I had a bed of ivy with daylilies on a slight slope. I have pulled up the ivy but want something that is not as i...
view the full question and answer

Native Groundcover Suggestions for Under Florida Oak Trees
April 03, 2015 - I am looking for native plants that will do well under several oak trees in Northeast Florida. My yard doesn't get much sun and I'm told I have acidic soil. Are the any plants that would do well wit...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a mixed border in Houston
February 22, 2010 - I live in Houston and have a flowerbed I'd like to fill with plants that will look good year-round. The back is already lined with 6-foot shrubs so nothing like that. I'd like something with colorf...
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow between flagstones in the Hudson River Valley of New York
May 08, 2012 - I live in newburgh, ny & have aquired some bluestone. I want to do a walkway but will need a low mowable ground cover to go between the stones (not enough bluestone to cover the area. I know I have ...
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