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
1 rating

Monday - September 28, 2009

From: Carmichael, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native creeping fig and non-native nutgrass in Carmichael CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Will creeping fig choke out nut grass?

ANSWER:

No. Nothing will choke out nutgrass, Cyperus rotundus. And planting creeping fig, Ficus pumila, would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Nutgrass originated in Africa, Southern Europe and Southern Asia. Creeping fig came from Japan, China and Vietnam. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Therefore, both these invasive, aggressive plants are out of our range of expertise. However, trying to control or prevent the propagation of alien invasive plants is well within our scope. 

First, the nutgrass, sometimes called nutsedge. It spreads from rhizomes that can be as much as 18 inches underground. Herbicides (which we recommend neither for nor against) can do little damage to the plant, because of its very deep rhizomes and the difficulty of getting the herbicide to those tubers that store food for the plant. You could try some of the suggestions from HowToGetRidofStuff.com.

On to creeping fig, Ficus pumila. While it is promoted by commercial nurseries as an evergreen ground cover, the information we found from people who had it in their yards, left by previous owners, is that they hate it. Even with vigorous pruning, it is nearly impossible to contain. It will grow up and over anything it can get to, including trees, which then die from lack of sunlight. It can damage wood sidings or fences with the adhesive in its runners that permits it to climb, and cutting it off at the roots does no good, because it roots itself, and you may find runners coming up 20 feet away. Underneath it all, the nutgrass will still be quietly flourishing. 

You can't do anything but pull out, and keep pulling out, the nutgrass, but you can prevent the problems with the creeping fig by never planting it.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Dying non-native St. Augustine grass from Austin
May 02, 2013 - Although we all know St. Augustine grass is not a good thing, I am stuck with it and am trying to save areas that appear to have take-all fungus. I have done much reading online and have tried peat m...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of contaminants leaching from asphalt driveway to adjacent vegetable garden in Tucson
April 13, 2011 - We have planted a vegetable garden next to a driveway. The driveway has recently (within the last 2 years) been covered with asphalt. My concern is that the oil may leach into my vegetables. Is thi...
view the full question and answer

Small white bugs on indoor hibiscus in Ohio
November 25, 2008 - My Hibiscus has small white bugs on the leaves with small white residue. Looks like very small pieces of white rice. This white rice is also covering the UNOPENED buds and making them fall off. It ...
view the full question and answer

Rust spots on non-native red tip photinia
July 10, 2008 - I live in Oklahoma and my red tips have rust spots on leaves and some plants are losing leaves. This is a clay soil; can you give me any info. on how to solve this problem?
view the full question and answer

Graywater with soap on trees and shrubs from Austin
June 18, 2012 - I previously asked you about using rinse water from our top loading washer to water trees and flowers. I have two more questions: Can I use the soapy water to water trees and shrubs? Then I get...
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
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center