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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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Wednesday - December 26, 2012

From: Glendale, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Problems with non-native Japanese privet from Glendale AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have Japanese privet shrub and they seem to be suffering from a disease, need help.

ANSWER:

The first problem is that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown (in this case, Maricopa County, AZ). Ligustrum japonica (Japanese privet) is native to, well, Japan.

From Gardenguides.com here is an article on Problems with Waxleaf Privet  (another name for the same plant). From North Carolina State University Going Native.  An Article from Floridata. A quote from that article:

"WARNING
This shrub can be invasive and readily reseeds. If you do have plants, remove flowers and fruit to limit spread."

Our solution would be to let it die, get rid of all the fruit and/or seedlings, kill the existing roots and replace with a shrub native to Arizona. Go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search, select on Arizona for State, shrub for Habit and whatever amount of sunlight you have where you want the plant to grow under Light Requirements. When we searched that way, we got 191 possibities; we also checked to make sure they grew naturally in Maricopa County. Here is a list of suggestions found that way:

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Arctostaphylos pungens (Pointleaf manzanita)

Baccharis sarothroides (Desert broom)

Ceanothus greggii (Desert ceanothus)

Ceanothus integerrimus (Deerbrush)

Cercocarpus montanus (Alderleaf mountain mahogany)

Dalea formosa (Feather dalea)

Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume)

Justicia californica (Beloperone)

Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant, where you can learn its projected mature size, bloom time and color, amount of sunlight needed and soil preferences.

 

From the Image Gallery


Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Pointleaf manzanita
Arctostaphylos pungens

Desert broom
Baccharis sarothroides

Desert ceanothus
Ceanothus greggii

Deerbrush
Ceanothus integerrimus

Alderleaf mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus

Featherplume
Dalea formosa

Apache plume
Fallugia paradoxa

Beloperone
Justicia californica

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December 10, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Instead of asking a question, I would like to comment on the seemingly discouraging tone on growing plants or trees out of their native habitat that I have observed from rea...
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Invasive phragmites from New Egypt NJ
July 30, 2011 - I have some wetland near a road. It has been taken over by phragmites. How is the best way to remove these grasses and add some diversity to this area. The area in question is approx. 100 by 30 feet.
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Eliminating gift plant from flowerbed
June 20, 2010 - A neighbor gave me cuttings of a lush green plant with a blue flower with a yellow center that is only open in morning. It has become very invasive. I cut it back and dug at least 6-12" deep to get t...
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Prairie remnant threatened by non-native Queen Anne's lace in Dallas
June 09, 2010 - A blackland prairie remnant is being invaded by Queen Ann's Lace. What are the best, least chemical, methods of getting rid of it without damaging the native grasses and wildflowers? Thank you!
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