En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 17, 2012

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


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!


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 clematis
Clematis pitcheri

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

More Invasive Plants Questions

Snails in the ice plants in California
May 31, 2011 - Ice plants and snails. Every morning when I go outside I see at least 20 or more snails. Is there a certain way that I should have planted them that would have prevented them from destroying my plant?...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of invasive Florida betony from Myrtle Beach SC
April 28, 2012 - 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....
view the full question and answer

Dwarf oyster plant dying in Sunrise FL
view the full question and answer

How Can I Tell an Invasive Thistle from a Native
May 01, 2012 - Mr Smarty Plants, I have some thistles coming up in my yard. I'd like to keep them if they are native, but not if they are invasive or non-native. How can I tell? My yard is a wild area in West Lak...
view the full question and answer

How to get rid of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)
July 28, 2008 - We have an enormous stand of japanese polygonum that we are trying to get rid of. What soil type is the most inhospitable to this aggressive and highly invasive species? Were thinking of planting so...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center