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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 22, 2013

From: Medina, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Non-native ligustrum in non-native fescue in Medina TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Is there an effective way to kill baby ligustrums coming up in my fescue yard without harming the grass?


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants evolved; in your case, Bandera County, TX.

Festuca arundaceae (fescue) is a cool-season perennial native to Europe.

From Floridata, here is an article on Ligustrum japonica; please note the last paragraph in the Floridata article:

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

Although we don't recommend planting non-natives, especially invasive non-natives , we can still help you out on this one. There are two kinds of plants involved here: monocots and dicots. A dicot has leaves with branched veins, and is often referred to as a "broad-leaf" plant. The ligustrum is a dicot. Monocots are plants with narrow leaves, parallel veins and are often grasses. Fescue is a monocot.

You need to know this because when you go to a nursery to get something to try to get rid of the ligustrum sprouts, you need to look on the herbicide label and find one which works on dicots. DO NOT BUY A SPRAY!! Buy a small bottle of the concentrated herbicide and some disposable foam paintbrushes. Cut each ligustrum sprout off as close to the surface as you can, and then quickly paint the cut edge (the one still connected to the root in the ground) with the herbicide. Be careful, if a little drips on the grass (monocot, remember) it won't kill the grass but it won't be good for it either. You must paint the cut edge quickly because the plant will be trying to heal over to protect the roots. We doubt this will get all the way back to the "Mother" plant, and you will have to repeat the procedure as each new sprout comes up.

And now you know why ligustrum is considered an invasive plant,




More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native avocado trees in Rio Grande Valley from Austin
January 05, 2013 - I just read the article in the Austin American Statesman about growing avocados outdoors. Don't know if they grow here, but they certainly don't just grow in south Florida. I used to live in Wesla...
view the full question and answer

Information about cenizo care and care of non-native tibouchinas
June 25, 2008 - I just bought some tibouchinas and need some tips. I plan to plant them in an area that gets sun until about 2pm, then shade for the rest of the day. Will these plants thrive in this environment, or w...
view the full question and answer

Moving "lily of the valley" from MD to TX. Is that OK?
January 17, 2012 - My question pertains to lily of the valley. From your database, I learned that it is a native plant but only the following states were listed: GA , KY , NC , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV. I am moving from...
view the full question and answer

Browning of non-native Plectranthus in Dallas
November 28, 2010 - I live in Dallas and planted 'Mona Lavender' which is now brown and limp after overnight temps in the low 30's. Is it dead or will it come back? Do I need to cover these plants during the winter m...
view the full question and answer

Mites in soil of house plants
June 25, 2008 - Hi there! I recently noticed tiny silver mites in the soil of my plants that I only notice after watering. These plants are indoors in on a window ledge (a dwarf palm, aloe plant and Hawaiian Scheffle...
view the full question and answer

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