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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

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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Wednesday - October 17, 2012

From: Kyle, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives
Title: Removing Creeping Fig Suckers
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Help Mr Smarty Plants, I am helping a neighbor remove a creeping fig from her property and want to know if there is any product that will soften, emulsify or remove the remaining sucker roots on the hardy plank and trim. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Technically, Mr Smarty Plants wants nothing to do with the non-native, invasive Ficus pumila. At the same time since you are trying to get rid of it, we’d love to present a solution.  Unfortunately, Mr Smarty Plants tried a few different angles of research and didn’t find very much to help you and your neighbor.  Creeping Fig is known for its solid sucker attachments and there isn’t much more than elbow grease available to remove them.

Here are some previous Mr. Smarty Plants offerings on the topic of Creeping Fig:
 Climbing vines non-damaging to walls in Round Rock, TX
 Vine for stucco wall in St. Petersburg FL
 Non-native creeping fig and non-native nutgrass in Carmichael CA

  Mr Smarty Plants did look farther afield on the Internet and found a number of articles that were reasonably consistent in their advice.  This one, from eHow, recommends letting the vines dry, then a combination of scraping, dampening and brushing.  Although we don’t like the herbicide line, this is one vine where it’s use might be justified!  There is a similar article about removing the suckers from brick.  More aggressive techniques can be used in this case as the brick can take it.  One article Mr Smarty Plants saw even recommended flaming the residuals off of brick!  While I don't recommend that, you may want to experiment with a scrap piece of hardy plank [or a hidden area] to see just how agressive you can get!

In the meantime, here are some pictures of much more appropriate vines!

 

From the Image Gallery


Purple leatherflower
Clematis pitcheri

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Lonicera sempervirens

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Passiflora incarnata

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