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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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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!

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Wednesday - May 11, 2011

From: Oswego, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Getting rid of non-native lesser celandine in Oswego NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Help! We have lesser celandine on approx. an acre of our property right on Lake Ontario, it's in my gardens and in our yard, and in the woods, I have dug it out of my gardens, but I'm not able to get it all. Can you help with some kind of weed killer?

ANSWER:

Ficaria verna, Fig Buttercup, also known as lesser celandine is native to Europe, North Africa, Western Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia and therefore falls out of our area of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow natively. However, we are always interested in trying to help gardeners deal with invasive plants, whether they are native or non-native.

The Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group LEAST WANTED website has a full article on Fig Buttercup. It recommends not only appropriate control measures but when to use them. Apparently, because this plant blooms in winter, some sprays can be used on it before the wildflowers emerge. Please read the instructions on any product you buy and follow them carefully. Of course, this plant is all the more difficult because of the rhizomes that spread underground. Your method of digging out those rhizomes is effective, but labor intensive. It would appear, from reading this article, that the time of year for the spray is now past, and needs to be done in the Winter. For the time being, a delaying action controlling the plants in your garden is probably all you can do, and then you can be prepared to really attack them in the Winter.

Remember, the best way to control an invasive plant is to never plant it. We realize you probably didn't plant it, but someone probably saw it in bloom, said "Oh, how cute," purchased it, planted it and possibly moved on, leaving a difficult problem behind them.

 

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