Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Friday - August 11, 2006

From: Caribou, ME
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Alternatives to non-native, invasive Pampa grass
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Could you please tell me if Cortaderia Selloana is "zone 4" hardy? Also how to start Opuntia Humifusa from cuttings? Do I let them stand upright dry and with no soil until they form the callous? Please help! Thank You So Much! Janet

ANSWER:

Most references give USDA cold-hardiness zones 6 or 7 as the northern limit for Cortaderia selloana, Pampas grass. It might survive in your area if located in a protected spot, but it might be just as well for you if it won't. Many people who plant this South American native in their gardens end up regretting doing so because of its legendary aggressiveness - it tends to resist all efforts to control its relentless expansion.

You might consider some native alternatives which would be perfectly suited to your climate and are much less likely to cause headaches later on. Some possibilities are Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum; Indiangrass, Sorghastrum nutans and Canada wild rye, Elymus canadensis. All are stately grasses native to Maine.

The cactus you are asking about, Opuntia humifusa, Eastern prickly-pear is not native to your area either, and will likely need winter protection. They are easy to propagate, though. Just let the wound caused by seperating the pads dry for a few days and then insert the severed end in evenly moist, well-drained media. It should root within a few weeks. Here is a link to a great web page on cactus propagation which goes into more detail.
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Help for a Transplanted Bougainvillea
April 22, 2014 - I recently planted a bougainvillea in our south-facing front yard. While planting it, we inadvertently severed a large portion of the root system from the plant. What, if anything, can we do to help...
view the full question and answer

Yellow bands around edges of leaves in Whitney TX
July 20, 2009 - How can you tell whether esperanzas are getting too much water or not enough - ours have a small yellow band around the edges of the leaves - crape myrtles - same question
view the full question and answer

Growing Giant Pumpkins in Georgia
April 15, 2013 - I have tried to grow giant pumpkins in the Atlanta, GA area. Each year I lose several strong plants to vine borers. I have tried tin foil wrapped around the stems, and I even painted the stems with Se...
view the full question and answer

Non-native weeping willow losing leaves
June 03, 2008 - We have a willow tree (weeping), which sprung up naturally about 12 years ago. It has done very well until this summer. After its bloom in late March, it is losing its leaves again..turning yellow and...
view the full question and answer

Non-native fig problems in Austin, TX.
July 02, 2014 - We have a large fig tree in our yard. It has been healthy since we bought the house in 2006. But in the last week or so, the leaves have turned yellow and have wilted. It is full of fruit. I'm afraid...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.