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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 - August 17, 2006

From: Nottingham, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Suggestions for alternatives to invasive, non-native English ivy
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can English ivy be planted in a pot, kept oudoors, and expected to endure our Maryland winters?

ANSWER:

English ivy (Hedera helix) is native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa and is considered invasive in at least 18 U. S. states. We are not enthusiastic about giving advice to propagate non-natives given that: "The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes." Nonetheless, English ivy is very cold hardy and would probably survive Maryland winters in a pot outdoors; and, it would probably do no harm as long as you were careful to remove any blossoms and/or seeds and kept it where none of the foliage could come in contact with the ground to take root.

If you are looking for a a hardy evergreen plant for the Maryland outdoor winters, the Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) and Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) would be good native substitutes. If you are looking for a vine, not necessarily evergreen, Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) and the native American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) would be good choices for Maryland.

 

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