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
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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - May 22, 2010

From: McKeesport, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Creeping buttercups in juniper in McKeesport PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have creeping buttercups in my juniper ground cover. How do I get rid of them.

ANSWER:

Ranunculus repens, creeping buttercup, is native to Europe, Asia and northwestern Africa and therefore out of our range of expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. However, this is both an invasive introduced species and poisonous, and we are interested in getting rid of that. This article from dgsgardening will give you some suggestions on getting rid of it.  Spraying a herbicide for broadleaf plants would help to dispose of it, although more mature plants could recover and seeds in the ground will probable also survive. The problem with that is that you are experiencing it invading a juniper ground cover, which we think might be Juniperus communis var. depressa (common juniper) or some closely related member of the Juniperus genus.  The reason that is a problem is that the broadleaf herbicides are designed to kill (what else?) broadleaf plants, as opposed to the monocots, narrow leaf plants, most of which are grasses. So, it would work in lawns, but also kill your juniper or any other broadleaf plants within range. 

This article from Oregon State University Extension on Weeds-Creeping Buttercup has more suggestions on treatment and/or control.  This article deals with the Northwest, but the plant is found all across the northern United States.

Your best bet is to control it with herbicide where it won't kill other broadleaf plants, and manually pull it out of the juniper. One suggestion we have seen recommends NOT pulling it out, because it can regenerate from a broken stem. However, if you can pull it out where the stolon emerges from the ground, you have a good chance. A word of caution from personal experience. We once had what we called prostrate juniper in a lot of our flowerbeds, and bermudagrass, another weedy introduced scourge found widely in the South, began to grow up through that juniper. We never gardened without gloves on, especially in that juniper, which is prickly and can leave you with an irritated skin. So, we plunged in, pulling out the grass, only to discover later that there was also poison ivy hidden in that juniper. The gloves had protected our hands but our right elbow was a nasty, itchy, ugly mess for a month of steroids, calamine lotion and scratching. 

Moral: Pull it out but protect yourself in the process.

Pictures of Juniperus communis var. depressa (common juniper) from Google

Pictures of creeping buttercups from Google. 

 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Seeds of Meremia dissecta from Austin
September 30, 2012 - I have a large quantity of seeds of Merremia dissecta that I acquired from plants growing in the parking lot of the San Antonio Museum of Art. (Hmmm… I wonder if it's called alamo vine because of som...
view the full question and answer

White evening primrose from Baton Rouge LA
April 16, 2013 - My husband and I have a disagreement about Mexican Primroses. I believe I have seen patches of them which are pure white. He believes they must be faded pink ones. Do white ones occasionally grow? ...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for Amber Jubilee Ninebark in California
November 22, 2014 - AMBER JUBILEE bush separating my neighbor and me, is spreading its roots into our water pipes. Want to rip out. What plants are root friendly and also give you privacy?
view the full question and answer

Distinguishing native Celastrus scandens from non-native C. Orbiculatus from Lexington MA
June 08, 2014 - Dear Mr. Plants, I maintain a wildflower garden with the Lexington Field and Garden Club in Lexington, Massachusetts. Every year, I pull up sprouts of Celastris orbiulatis. I want to plan...
view the full question and answer

Controlling switchgrass in Fredericksburg TX
June 12, 2010 - How do you kill switch grass..too much has grown on our property. Originally planted to stop erosion due to oak wilted trees lost on hill behind house, which worked,but now it is everywhere.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center