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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 09, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Problem Plants
Title: removing paper mulberry shoots from lawn
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Dear Mr./Ms. Smartypants, I recently moved into an Austin home with the backyard taken over by paper mulberries. There were originally 2-3 large bush/trees, but now that I've removed them I realize there are hundreds upon hundreds of little paper mulberry saplings. I plucked the entire yard a month ago, and now the saplings have grown back. I really don't want to use harsh chemicals, but I'm afraid that the root system is too well-developed to uproot. Nothing else is growing in the yard, possibly because this invasive species has made such an inhospitable environment. Is my yard beyond hope? Is there anyway to get rid of these, once and for all? Thanks,

ANSWER:

Paper mulberry is a non-native plant that can be highly invasive and hard to eliminate, as you have learned.  However, if, as you state, there are no other desirable plants now growing in your backyard, you are well-positioned to use solarization to eliminate the invasive shoots. This is your best bet if you do not wish to use chemical herbicides, which might have only marginal success in this case. 

Mr. Smarty Plants does not find any reference specifically describing solarization to eliminate Paper mulberry, but if you follow the instructions given in the underlined solarization website there is a good chance of success.  A preliminary tilling with a roto-tiller should break up the fairly tender mulberry roots that lie only a few inches below the ground.  The hot Texas sun should kill the remaining plant material within a few weeks.

Solarization also kills many useful soil microorganisms.  If you plan to plant other things in this area soon it might be a good idea to broadcast compost or soil containing compost over the ground to help replenish the soil microbiota.

 

More Problem Plants Questions

Live Oak Suckers or ??? in Arlington, TX
September 12, 2014 - Do I have live oak suckers or an invasive plant? We bought a house a few years ago in Arlington, TX with two beautiful old live oak trees, and mostly just bare sand-dirt under them. Under one t...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Pterocaulon pycnostachyum
September 17, 2014 - I have a solitary Pterocaulon pycnostachyum in my wildscape; it invited itself. Some years it does not flower at all (or the bloom is eaten before I see it), and its stalks (usually 4) are not ...
view the full question and answer

Reducing Allergens in Yards and Gardens
January 31, 2012 - What are some allergen-free native plants to Central Texas that thrive in the soil and can survive in the weather?
view the full question and answer

Need something to compete with Virginia wild rye in Bristol, TN.
July 29, 2011 - I have been working for 4 years to convert a large area of sunny lawn (150' x 40') to a native woodland planting, using native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses. Although I used seeds of a variety ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of invasive mints
March 30, 2005 - How do I remove common mint from my garden? I removed the previous years plants and tilled the soil. This year they came back more than before.
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center