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?

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
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

Tuesday - May 07, 2013

From: Corpus Christi, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Removing grassy weeds from cactus garden in Corpus Christi TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do you get grassy weeds out of a cactus garden? I don't want to use roundup around the cacti? Can you recommend a herbicide that won't harm the cactus?

ANSWER:

Like kissing a porcupine, very carefully. Okay, sorry, we'll get serious. First rule, NO SPRAYS. Whatever you read on the label about how safe an herbicide is, it is not safe to spray it. The spray can drift or simply fall out of the air somewhere you did not want it. If, indeed, what you have is grassy weeds, that is, monocots, with long slender leaves that have parallel veins in them, there are specific herbicides for monocots. But you still don't spray it. It probably wouldn't kill the cactus if it drifted over onto it, but it wouldn't do the cactus any good, either. Try to find a bottle of liquid monocot herbicide. And remember your lawn is probably a monocot grass, so don't get careless with the bottle, either, Get a long-handled artist's brush, a cheap one, because you will have to throw it away. Dip the brush into the liquid monocot killer, and then paint the grasses. The nearer you can get down into the root area of each grass, the better, because it is the root you are trying to kill.

Alternative, or perhaps supplemental, method. Get what we used to call a sharp-toed hoe. This was a regular, long-handled hoe, but the blade was triangular with a sharp point. Surely, this is still around in hardware and garden supply stores. Remembering to protect your hands with leather gloves, and your body with heavy clothes, dig out as much root from each weed as you can and remove it, with the hoe. Don't leave it there, because many grasses have stolons, or underground stems, from which new plants can grow. After that, keep a close eye on the patch of weeds, treating anything that pops up with the herbicide or hauling it out with the hoe.

And we think the job should be given to whoever had the idea for a cactus garden.

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Correction of tree name from Bay Point CA
October 16, 2013 - The tree should of been Mulberry don't know how it was changed!! Tuesday - October 15, 2013 From: Bay Point, CA Region: California Topic: Non-Natives, Cacti and Succulents, Trees Title: Non-...
view the full question and answer

Prickly cactus in Williamson County, Texas
September 12, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Can you tell me what species of prickly pear cactus we have here in Williamson County? I see two listed as being here in Texas. One is the Plains variety and the other is ...
view the full question and answer

Leaves turning black on Agave americana
June 06, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants- We have a ~5-year-old agave americana that began to have leaves turn yellow (to black in some areas) just this past spring (2008). A neighbor's tree had started to overhang t...
view the full question and answer

What to do with bloom stalk on yucca
June 08, 2008 - Six years ago, I dug up two small narrow-leaf yuccas from a deer lease outside of Junction, Texas. I planted them in a raised bed in my yard and the smaller of the two survived and grew. To my surpris...
view the full question and answer

Bloom stalk not visibly connected to Century Plant from Johnson City, TX
July 31, 2013 - Can anyone tell my why my Century Plant is growing a bloom stalk a couple of feet away from my plant instead of up through the middle? Ive never seen one do that and it strikes me as being rather odd!
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center