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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Sunday - November 22, 2009

From: Paris, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Vinca minor and St. Augustine grass
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

Will St. Augustine grass choke out vinca minor?

ANSWER:

The focus and expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is limited to plant species native to North America. Vinca minor(common periwinkle) is a native of Europe and out of our area of expertise. Stenotaphrum secondatum(St. Augustine grass), is of uncertain enough provenance that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not include it in its Native Plant Database. It wouldn't thrive in settings where it faces long dry periods, especially in full sun, without lots of supplemental water.

As to which plant would dominate, we tend to think that it depends on the setting and timing. If the site has good conditions for Stenotaphrum secondatum(St. Augustine grass), and the grass is well-established and dense, it might resist invasion by Vinca minor(common periwinkle) pretty well. If the Vinca minor(common periwinkle) is the established plant, or if the site stresses the grass, the  Vinca minor(common periwinkle) is likely to dominate.

Perhaps you are looking for a new solution to a problem spot? Try looking at the  Native Plant Database for some ideas.... It's in the Explore Plants section. When you get there you can use a couple of methods to look for plants suitable for your site. By narrowing the search to the type(s) of plants you are looking for – grasses, shrubs, etc. – and choosing specific site conditions – sun, soil moisture – you can generate a list of native plants suited to your needs. You can further narrow by using the Recommended Native Species  function to select plants that thrive in your part of Texas.

 

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