En Español

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

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.

rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - May 17, 2013

From: Mooresville, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants
Title: Identity of and how to get rid of plant in planter in Indiana
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We moved to Mooresville Ind. (Brooklyn area) 3 yrs ago. In one of the 12x12 planters out back, these one THINGS keep cutting back and spreading everywhere. They are tall, hollow stem, seems like there is water in the stem and they break off easily. I can't get rid of them. They keep spreading,even grow from under the planter out to the grass. What are they and how do I get rid of them? No flowers, just greenish/reddish leaves and are a pain in the butt.


Your description doesn't bring to mind any native plant in your area and the fact that the plants are growing in a planter suggests to me a cultivated nursery plant (not a native plant) introduced from elsewhere as an ornamental.  Our focus and expertise here at the Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America so you really need to ask someone else about your plant's identity.  The best way to determine its identity is take digital photos of it—the entire plant, a closeup of the stem to show how the leaves are attached and a closeup of the leaves to show their shape.  Next, you should visit our Plant Identification page where you will find the link to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.  Once you have learned its identity, you can search the internet to learn how to control it.

Alternatively, if you don't really care what it is but just want to get rid of it, you can:

1.  Dig up the roots and dispose of them in the garbage; or

2.  Cut the stems off near the bottom of each stem and, using a small foam brush, immediately paint the cut surface connected to the roots with an herbicide (such as RoundUp).  It is important to paint the cut area immediately because the plant's defense system will quickly seal the cut surfaces making it harder for the herbicide to penetrate.  You may have to do this several times before the roots die.  Be careful not to get the herbicide on plants you want to keep and read and follow the personal safety instructions on the label of the herbicide.


More Plant Identification Questions

Identification of Canopy Plant
December 01, 2008 - I recently adopted a large house plant from a neighbor who moved away. He called it a 'Canopy Plant', but I'm having no luck with that name when I search for care tips. It seems to be in poor healt...
view the full question and answer

Dfferences between Argemone arizonica and other Argemones
October 27, 2005 - I am trying to find information about the differences between the Argemone arizonica which grows only in the Grand Canyon and the other Argemones which grow in the rest of the U.S. Do you have any...
view the full question and answer

Identification of maypop north of Houston
March 08, 2008 - I have some land in the country an hour north of Houston, Texas. There is a wild plant which grows in clusters from 10' to 20' wide. These plants grow about 6" or 12" apart.They are approx. one fo...
view the full question and answer

Iris brevicaulis in Southwest Michigan
April 22, 2007 - We live in Kalamazoo, MI (Southwest Michigan Zone 6) and discovered last year that we have an iris brevicaulis (we think) growing (and very pretty) on our property. It has the "zig zag" stem. It see...
view the full question and answer

Identification of small tree in McKinney TX with puffy red/pink bloom
May 23, 2011 - Looking for info on McKinney area sm/med size tree found at water's edge that has a puffy rd pink bloom. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center