En Español

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - January 16, 2012

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Horsetail Rush invasive in Santa Monica CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants: I live about 3 miles from the beach in the Santa Monica area and have an 18inch deep planter area in my backyard that is adjacent to my garage. I like the look of horsetail rush. I see it used often in planters adjacent to buildings and think it would work but am concerned if it's roots are aggressive. Any input would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

There are 11 members of the genus Equisetum, horsetail, native to North America, of which 5 are native to California. Since they all have similar habits, we will use Equisetum hyemale (scouring horsetail) as an example. According to this USDA Plant Profile map, it is native not only to Los Angeles County, but also to every state in North America, Alaska and provinces in Canada, as well as Greenland, so we can be assured that it will thrive in your area. But that really wasn't what you wanted to know; you were asking if it could be aggressive, so we'll look a little further for that.

We already know that this is a moist places, standing water plant, and is considered definitely invasive in those spots. But we thought that perhaps being planted in a planter would minimize the danger of that. However, before you make a decision, you should read the comments in this Dave's Garden forum on Horsetail scouring rush. It is not a pretty picture.

You can get more information from this article on Equisetum hyemale by Earl J. S. Rook, including the fact that it spreads both by rhizomes and by spores.  This sounds like if the right hand don't get you, the left hand will. From the comments we saw, you probably are not too safe thinking you will just give it a try, and see how it does, because apparently, once you have it, you HAVE it.

Generally speaking, we feel that the best way to control invasive plants is to never plant them.

 

From the Image Gallery


Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale

Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale

Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Controlling Straggler Daisy
July 07, 2011 - Is there a barrier I can use that will keep Straggler Daisy under control so that I will not be a problem for my neighbors?
view the full question and answer

Allelopathy in Sassafras albidum
January 11, 2012 - Sassafras albidum description says "Sassafras is allelopathic and can discourage the growth of certain other plants within its root zone." My question is: WHICH plants are susce...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers in Bloom in Hudson Valley NY in July
May 19, 2015 - We are hosting a rustic wedding on July 11, and we would like to decorate with wildflowers. We live in rural NY state, in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and there are many sites from which to pick wildflowers...
view the full question and answer

Lily plants being chewed from Austin
June 20, 2013 - Something is chewing my lily plants to the ground. Any ideas what and do I stop them?
view the full question and answer

Plants for sunny dry soil location
August 22, 2010 - Do any native plants exist in a highly sunny very dry soil location? (high overhang prevents rain but allows sun)
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center