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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.

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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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Tuesday - March 08, 2011

From: Bay Point, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Control of suckers on non-native crepe myrtle from Bay Point, CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I wrote to you a while back and haven't heard back. I wanted to know if Naphthalene Acidic Acid will keep the suckers on my Crepe Myrtle at bay? And if so, where might I find it? Thank you.

ANSWER:

We're sorry you didn't hear from us. We try to answer questions within a day or two of receipt, so somebody goofed somewhere alone the line. First, we want to tell you that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native to North America and to the place where the plants are being grown. Lagerstroemia indica, Crape Myrtle, originated in Asia, and has been introduced to moderate climates everywhere. Furthermore, it has been widely hybridized, which makes it even harder for us to figure out what to tell you. From Gardening Know How, this article on Tree Sucker Removal and Tree Sucker Control can give you some more information. We had never heard of the acid you mentioned, but research told us it is used as a root stimulant. Those suckers are coming from the roots, put root stimulant on the suckers, and you will probably get more of them, not less. Furthermore, we don't like the idea of acid anything being used in gardens. It's bad for the environment, bad for the plant and bad for anyone handling it. Your tree may be under stress of some sort, which will cause it to sucker out to potentially make more food for the plant. Address the stress situation, which may be over-watering, over-fertilizing or damage to the tree from lawnmowers or weed trimmers. To deal with the suckers, use long-handled nippers, and get as far down in the dirt as you can and nip those suckers off. If the tree is standing in grass, you can mow them.

 

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