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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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Thursday - January 26, 2012

From: Carrollton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Care for indoor ivy from Carollton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an indoor ivy that is on a pole. The pole is breaking, and I need to separate the ivy from the pole with the least amount of trauma to the plant. How should I do this? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Most indoor plants are non-native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, promotes the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. Apparently, indoor ivies are mostly Hedera helix, native to Europe and and western Asia, and therefore fall out of our frame of reference.

Hedera helix, often referred to as English ivy, is widely grown in North America and is considered extremely invasive if grown outdoors. Apparently, keeping it in a pot indoors makes this consideration irrelevant. From the Guide to Houseplants, we found this article on English Ivy Plant Care. We found no direct reference to avoiding damage when removing a support, but we found lots of recommendations that it be kept pruned, with dead leaves removed, etc. If the plant is doing well where it is presently growing, our recommendation would be to prune back branches of the ivy which are attached to the support, remove the damaged support, and let the ivy re-grow. Just don't plant it outside, it will take over your world.

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