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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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Saturday - April 28, 2012

From: Myrtle Beach, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Edible Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Getting rid of invasive Florida betony from Myrtle Beach SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I get rid of Florida Betony from my lawn and flower beds/ garden area. Garden area was thoroughly dug up and hand picked of all tubules last year at least a foot deep. They are much worse now. Any herbicide I've tried seems to kill everything in the vicinity, only the visible plant of Florida Betony, but it comes back.

ANSWER:

This just proves that a plant does not have to be non-native to be invasive. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that while Stachys floridana (Florida hedgenettle) is not native to Horry County, it does grow near there and has obviously invaded your property.

Because we are not familiar with this plant, we found this article from North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension on Florida betony. We learned from this that a spray cannot easily access the tubers in the ground, but can certainly kill things around it that you didn't want killed. One technique that we have sometimes recommended involves clipping the stem of the offending plant down near the surface of the soil. Using a disposable sponge paint brush, quickly drench the cut surface of that stem. With good luck this will penetrate down to the tuber without the stem having time to heal over to protect the tuber. Beyond that, sheer perserverance is about your only resort.

From this Dave's Garden forum, you will learn that it is also edible, in case you need a backup food supply.

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