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

Sunday - June 13, 2010

From: Vienna, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Removing nut grass and wild strawberry in Vienna VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Pants, How do I get rid of wild strawberry plants and nut grass in my large garden bed? I have rosemary and thyme already there and don't want to use a harmful pesticide (kids and pets as well).

ANSWER:

You aren't going to like this, but in both cases simply pulling it out again and again and again is the time-honored method. An organic approach, which we have never tried, is found in Gardens Alive Is Nutgrass Driving You Nuts? The problem, even with very intense organic or chemical pesticides, is that the rhizomes, deep underground, will hold nourishment for the plant for a very long time, usually permitting it to overcome attempts to do it in. If you pull off the leaves of a plant long enough, the roots will finally starve, because there are no leaves making food for the whole plant through photosynthesis.  If your ground is soft, there is no greater satisfaction than pulling out a long string of those tubers and destroying them. Unfortunately, there are always more a few feet away, and they will quickly grow into the vacated space. Cyperus rotundus is native to Africa, south central Europe and southern Asia. If we could deport it, we would. 

Pictures of Cyperus rotundus from Google

From our webpage on  Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry):

"Virginia strawberry or wild strawberry is a ground-hugging plant rising from a fibrous, perennial root system. Hairy leaf petioles, up to 6 in. long, each bear a single trifoliate leaf. The hairy flower stalk gives rise to a loose cluster of small, five-petaled flowers followed by tasty, wild strawberries."

This means you have a similar problem to the nutgrass, in that the underground roots are perennial, and will live in the soil to send fresh new plants up. From Illinois Wildflowers, we learned that it is  considered a food plant, as well as a host to butterflies and other wildlife. No one seems too interested in getting rid of it. When you read about it, you realize it is much the same situation as the nutgrass, spreading by stolons and rhizomes. However, it apparently goes dormant in warm weather; that might be a good time to launch an attack. Or try making strawberry jam.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Fragaria virginiana

Fragaria virginiana

Fragaria virginiana

 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Need to know about the invasiveness of Datura wrightii.
May 17, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently purchased a small Datura wrightii plant for my front garden. I've been researching it, since I know it is quite toxic, and couldn't find a good answer to one quest...
view the full question and answer

Invasive silverleaf nightshade in Plainwell MI
June 27, 2010 - Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav. Silverleaf nightshade, Silver-leaf nightshade, White horse nettle. We purchased our land and built here 3 years ago. I have these all over my 30 acres of land including ...
view the full question and answer

Care for a Campsis radicans in Yakima, WA
October 08, 2008 - I have a Campsis radicans it is in a 7" pot and the plant is 20" tall. It was a clipping given to me by a lady that is now out of town. My question is: I live in zone 6a so do I leave it in the p...
view the full question and answer

Why is Common Horehound missing from NPIN?
March 27, 2014 - Hi there, I am not able to find Marrubium vulgare, i.e. Common or White Horehound, in the Native Plant Database. It grows abundantly on our ranch in Central Texas, and I am attempting to grow i...
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

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