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

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
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

Plant around Pittsburg from Weirton WV
September 19, 2009 - I have seen this plant outside of the Pittsburgh,PA area and was told it is called Midnight Cowboy. It has bright yellow flowers and long green leaves that only comes out at night(so I am told). Ca...
view the full question and answer

Dandelions in bluebonnets in Bastrop TX
May 31, 2012 - I have a 20'x60' front yard area where I planted bluebonnets. It has become horrifically inundated with dandelions. How do I eradicate the dandelions while preserving the bluebonnets ? Thanks ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of invasive non-native Chinese wisteria
September 10, 2007 - I am going to be removing my ubiquitous chinese wisteria very soon (the method I'm going to use is undetermined). If I decide to use Round-up on the cut-stem (which may take more than one application...
view the full question and answer

Difficulty with Clay Soil from Palm Bay, FL
August 22, 2012 - I had a very nice little native shady area behind my house for over 40 years, but now it has been cleared except for a 100 foot tall live oak in the center of this raised mound (50' x 80'). I've be...
view the full question and answer

Weeds in Buffalograss from Edmond OK
September 20, 2012 - We have a patch of buffalograss surrounded by patio/flower garden/vegetable garden. We like B-grass, but are getting a lot of weeds despite preemergents, and some bermuda had appeared. Are there h...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center