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?


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
1 rating

Thursday - September 24, 2009

From: Sugar Land, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native cannas in Sugar Land, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I just planted some beautiful canna lilies along my fenceline (about 8 inches off the property line and 2 ft between each plant). My neighbor complained that they were going to go wild and sprout up on her side of the fence. I put up mesh netting to keep the leaves from poking through the fence as they begin to grow. Should that keep them on my side of the fence?


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. The only cannas native to Texas are Canna glauca (maraca amarilla) and Canna flaccida (bandanna of the Everglades). Canna indica is native to Central and South America and most of the other cannas are grouped under the name Canna x generalis, so extensively hybridized that there is no telling what the parents of a particular plant were or what their general characteristics will be. Both being hybridized and being non-native put them out of our range of expertise. 

Since Canna x generalis (Floridata), as well as other named cannas, spread by rhizomes underground, mesh to keep the leaves from poking through is not going to make much difference. In southeast Texas, those rhizomes will continue in the soil over winter, and sprout new plants next year. We have heard complaints about cannas "taking over," but found no indication in our research that they are considered invasive. If your neighbor dislikes the cannas, she can dig the rhizomes out on her side as they come up. If you care about your neighbor's opinion, you can move the canna rhizomes to someplace on your property not so near theirs. This can be done over the winter. 


More Non-Natives Questions

Return to original color of non-native crape myrtles in Henderson, TX
July 17, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I bought 3 Dynamite Crape Myrtles that were about 3 -4 feet tall (at Lowe's). In the late Spring, I planted 2 of them about 100 feet apart, in full sun, and left the other one in...
view the full question and answer

Texas native bamboo vs. non-native for hedge.
August 25, 2008 - Why is Mr. Smarty Plants so against bamboo when there is a native American/Texan bamboo and an active bamboo society in the Austin area? I live in Central East Austin and I need the cheapest, fas...
view the full question and answer

About African Violets
April 26, 2007 - I have an African Violet. i clipped a leaf off and rooted it and i have a baby pink-leafed African Violet now, not pink flowers, pink leaves. It struck me as odd. i never saw one like this before. i...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under non-native fruitless mullberry trees from Ft. Worth TX
June 28, 2012 - I live in Tarrant county, where summer droughts are the norm. I have a 150x50 foot swathe of mature "fruitless mulberry" trees, which create a very shady atmosphere. The soil is clay dominated, ro...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting care of Mayten tree (Maytenus sp.)
November 06, 2007 - I planted a Mayten tree 2 years ago. It's about 8 feet tall. The trunk is about 1-1/2 or 2" in diameter. The earth around it sunk and now there is a "bowl" that fills with water in the rain. I...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center