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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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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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:

"WARNING
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,

 

 

 

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