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

Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
May 01, 2014 - My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
view the full question and answer

Corkscrew willow damage to roof in Detroit, MI.
August 13, 2009 - I have a corkscrew willow (Detroit, MI) that is huge and whose branches hang on top of the asphalt shingles of my mobile home. It has now been discovered that these shingles, under the branches, are ...
view the full question and answer

Use of non-native jasmine for wedding in Salt Lake City
January 08, 2010 - I am getting married mid summer in Salt Lake City. I want to incorporate jasmine plants/flowers into my bouquet, centerpieces, etc. Is that feasible living in Salt Lake City? Would they survive long e...
view the full question and answer

Reblooming Potted Iris
June 12, 2014 - I have a pot of iris bulbs that are giving me just a bunch of leaves this year. Last year I had wonderful big blooms. Any suggestions about what I could do to get some flowers?
view the full question and answer

Identification of native blackhaw or non-native ligustrum in Austin
January 16, 2005 - I have a native tree in my yard, ca.15-20 feet tall, that has glossy, rounded dark leaves and small clusters of dark purplish berries. (It also has very weak limbs - perhaps grows too fast for its ow...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center