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
3 ratings

Sunday - September 05, 2010

From: Carmichael, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Legal to kill non-native invasive fig ivy in Carmichael CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is it legal to spray round-up on invasive fig ivy from my neighbor's yard? Will we be responsible for killing his plant? He refuses to install a barrier between us or discuss a remedy.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center makes no recommendations for nor against chemical products for destroying unwanted plants. What we are totally prepared to comment on is the undesirable invasive and non-native Ficus pumila, which is native to temperate and tropical Asia. The Wildflower Center does, indeed, make recommendations against the growth or propagation of any plant not native to North America and the area in which the plant is being grown, as well as any plant, native or non-native, that becomes invasive and detrimental to other plants. 

So, we are in total agreement with you on the subject of getting rid of the fig ivy, but we are not lawyers, so we have no idea what the legality of destroying someone else's plant is; it is not in our realm of expertise. We don't like the use of the word "spray" when dealing with herbicides. Sprayed herbicides make no differentiation between native or non-native, invasive or welcome, they just kill.

For some more detailed information on herbicide for this plant, please read this article from plantanswers.com The "friendly plant killers of choice". Then, we recommend you read the comments, especially the negative comments, from Dave's Garden Ficus pumila. You will note that many of the negative comments are from California. Note also this comment from the same website:

"Danger:
Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction"

Now, what to do? First, if you are on friendly enough terms with your neighbor, recommend these same articles for their reading. Next, there is no way it can be illegal for you to kill plants on your own property. It seems unlikely, considering the nature of the plant, that it is going to substantially damage your neighbors' plant. You can use the herbicide and some disposable sponge paintbrushes to attack the problem in two ways. This plant roots where it touches, and the roots go very deep. Killing the leaves will not kill the roots, and thus not kill the plant. First step, find where roots emerge from the ground, and cut them very close to the soil. Within 5 minutes, paint that cut stub with the undiluted herbicide. You do this quickly before the stub starts to heal over to protect itself, in the hope the poison will be taken up and transmitted to the roots. Just to make it easier to get at those roots, pull away all the vegetation you can and dispose of where it can't root itself or seed again. When you have gotten to all the roots you can on your side of the property, using a larger sponge brush, do a broad painting of all the leaves you can get at. This probably won't kill the roots on your neighbor's side, but the poison will spread through the stems to some extent. 

Of course, this will have to be periodically repeated, at least on your side, and even if the neighbors take out the plants on their side, it will continue to re-emerge from roots you have not been successful in killing. Patience and perseverence is your motto. 

Moral: The best way to get rid of invasive plants is to never plant them.

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Care for non-native plumeria in Inverness FL
October 05, 2009 - I have several plumeria plants that I planted in the ground this spring. I will soon need to dig them up and store them in the garage for the winter, as I left some last year that died with the frost...
view the full question and answer

Non-native house plants stressed from Allen TX
July 30, 2011 - I have three house plants that were plants I received from my father's funeral services. They were healthy for about two years and then we added some soil and now they are turning brown and appear t...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of bamboo-like plant in California
January 10, 2014 - We just bought a house in Cambria, CA. The plant I'd like to ID grows like bamboo -- spreading fibrous stalks abt 6' high with beautiful orange blossoms that protrude out the top of the stalk. The...
view the full question and answer

Lantana in hanging basket not blooming in Dover PA
June 23, 2010 - We have a lantana Bandana trailing gold in a hanging planter in full sun. It hardly blooms. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Care of Passiflora incarnata or Passiflora coccinea
July 04, 2007 - Hi- I have two passionflowers, one red, one purple. I live in upstate NY. They grow very well up onto trellises, however, they have stopped producing flowers. Both are planted in pots (fairly large)...
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