Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Thursday - July 01, 2010

From: West Columbia, , SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Ways to eliminate non-native bermuda grass from West Columbia SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Could you kill bermuda grass by heavy over-fertilizing it? Or black, solid plastic cloth? Thanks

ANSWER:

Cynadon dactylon, bermudagrass. Guess what? We don't like it, either. It is native to Africa (not Bermuda) and has become one of the most invasive weeds in the South. See this University of California  Integrated Pest Management article on how to get rid of it.

We wouldn't recommend over-fertilizing anything. It's chancy whether it will cause the plant to "grow itself to death" which we have heard of, too. And the excess fertilizer will be right there available to wash off into the street and straight to your rivers and water supply. On the subject of excluding the light from the plants by  black plastic, here is a quotation from the article above:

"Mulches of black plastic or geotextile landscape fabric can also be effective over large areas if light is excluded."

Whatever you do, remember it will not be quick and easy. The reason bermudagrass is so invasive is that it can spread above and below ground, via stolons (aboveground) and rhizomes (belowground). You don't just do it with one operation, because still unsprouted seeds are likely still in there, as well as the rhizomes, which can hold nutrients for the grass to rise again long after you thought the top part was dead. 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Can non-native Jacaranda be grown in San Antonio
May 17, 2011 - Can I grow a jacaranda tree in San Antonio? Wonder if it can handle heat, occasional freezes, & dry seasons.
view the full question and answer

Did Mexican fire bush (Hamelia patens) survive winter cold?
May 05, 2010 - I have a Mexican fire bush that I planted last spring and it bloomed beautifully last summer. It browned and we cut it back to the ground. Right now it's showing no signs of life and I'm afraid it m...
view the full question and answer

Should non-native Royal Empress tree be planted in Lawrence MA?
May 13, 2010 - I am researching the Royal Empress Tree because I want to plant one in my yard in Massachusetts. I wanted to know if the Royal Empress will have rapid reproduction and bring more Empress trees to the ...
view the full question and answer

Control of invasive non-native Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
June 11, 2009 - What can I do to control garlic mustard that has moved into my wild area and what should I plant to combat this aggressive plant? Ostrich ferns, Pagoda dogwoods and emerald hemlocks have been recommen...
view the full question and answer

Possible maple scale on non-native mophead hydrangeas from Newport RI
August 07, 2013 - I have a mophead hydrangea that has small white cottony tufts under the leaves and on the stems. I believe this is maple scale. Is there a home remedy I can use to rid this disease?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.