En EspaŅol

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

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

Eucalyptus tree for Spring, Texas
October 31, 2008 - I've heard eucalyptus trees do not lose their leaves in the winter and grow considerably tall. I want to replace a decaying pine tree with a eucalyptus tree. Do you recommend that for the Spring, T...
view the full question and answer

Killing oak sprouts from El Paso TX
August 16, 2011 - I want to know how to kill oak root sprouts and seedlings. Very dense and out-of-control in huge area of front lawn. I had tree cut down and I still cannot get rid of them. They're only getting wors...
view the full question and answer

Replacement of Arizona ash in Austin
October 28, 2011 - We have two Arizona Ashes in our yard that probably have maybe a decade left in them. We want to get a couple new trees started, so they will be well established once the Ashes are near their end. In ...
view the full question and answer

Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?
October 25, 2013 - Will white-tail deer in central Texas consume King Ranch bluestem ?
view the full question and answer

Absence of grass around a willow tree in Georgia
December 22, 2008 - In the past three years my Willow tree has grown from a stick to a lovely tree. Unfortunately, the grass under and around the tree is gone. Nothing left but dirt. Is there a remedy?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center