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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - September 22, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native invasive Asian jasmine in greenbelt in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I convince the people that live next to me to control their Asian jasmine? We have a small greenbelt owned by the City behind our houses and they have let it grow until it is ruining the greenbelt. It goes into my yard also and is a constant source of irritation. When I try to convince them to at least keep it in their own yard that it is ruining native vegetation their response is "well, I don't own that land." They don't care.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't have all that much luck convincing people about the use of invasive, non-native plants, either. In all fairness, the neighbors may not even have planted that jasmine, but inherited it from a previous owner. If it is not bothering them on their own land, there is no way to legislate a plant from spreading. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department on Nature Preserves website has a list of "Least Wanted" which includes Asian jasmine.

For the responsible gardener, here are some guidelines from the Texas Invasives website:

"Gardeners

Not all non-native species are bad, but some plants that look lovely in your garden might be harmful invaders that will make their way into natural areas. The Be PlantWise website has easy tips on how to manage your garden to preserve the unique qualities of neighboring wildlands.

  • If you don't know it, don't grow it!
  • Avoid exotic plants that self seed and show up outside of your garden.
  • If you see your local nursery selling invasive plants or seeds, let them know about your concerns.
  • Landscape and garden with plants native to your area. Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plant Information Network for resources to help with creating low-maintenance and colorful native plant gardens."

This sounds like it needs to be a neighborhood project. An invasive is in the eye of the beholder. If you are the one it is bothering, perhaps you need to take the initiative in at least controlling it in the green belt. We realize you can't do this alone, but you might get some help and suggestions from Austin Parks and Recreation; Austin Preserves Contact Information. If this is not in their area, they still might know who you should ask for help.

In terms of controlling the Asian jasmine, obviously you can't spray herbicides. They don't seem to have much effect on Asian Jasmine anyway, but they sure would damage or kill a lot of the plants that you are interested in preserving in the green belt.  There is probably no use in trying to get your neighbor to try to stop it moving off their property, because it is already well-established in the green belt. In fact, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower recommends neither for nor against chemical herbicides, and you can understand why. There is no such thing as a plant-specific herbicide, that will just kill the plant you hate, and not affect the plants you love. Your best bet is to pull out as much of the offending vine as you can, disposing it in a way to prevent its re-rooting. Then, start working on the roots. Everywhere you see a root stalk emerging from the ground, snip it off as near the ground as possible. With a disposable sponge paintbrush and a broad-spectrum herbicide, paint over the cut root stem within 5 minutes. You do this in order to get the poison started down into the root system before the root starts healing itself over to keep people like you from getting rid of it. Be very careful with the herbicide, don't spill it and don't overuse it. The ground can be contaminated by it and any accidents could, again, lead to damage to the plants in the green belt you are trying to preserve.

This, unfortunately, is not a one-off operation. The plants will continue to come up, likely for years. Just be vigilant, get to them before they get established and start again to overwhelm the green belt area.

 

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