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?

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

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
2 ratings

Friday - June 28, 2013

From: waco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Killing regrowing shoots of a downed hackberry tree
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hackberry plants won't die. You and others have suggested to cut the suckers or saplings to get rid of them. Over the years I have continued to cut the same saplings and the only thing I have now are hackberry sapling root structures the size of a salad plate. I need to get rid of these things - they are all over the place.

ANSWER:

As a last (and effective) resort, use a herbicide.  You must cut as many of the growing shoots as you can very close to the ground.  If there are lots of shoots, cut them in groups of six or eight.  Then, within five minutes at most, use a small brush to paint the cambium layer (or whole shoot if less than 0.5 inches in diameter) with CONCENTRATED Roundup herbicide (not the diluted form sold to spray on leafy vegetation).  The cambium layer is the ring of cells just beneath the bark.  It's functions include transporting nutrients made in the leaves by photosynthesis down into the stem and roots and transporting water from the roots up to the leaves. If the herbicide is not applied within a very few minutes after disrupting the cambium it will not be taken up effectively by the plant.  Then cut and treat another group of shoots and continue the routine until all shoots are treated.  If some of the saplings are as large as small trees you can simply girdle the trunk and apply herbicide in the cut opening.

Roundup concentrate can be obtained from some garden centers or hardware stores.  Roundup persists in nature for only a few days, but it is toxic to some animals while it lasts.  That is why you must carefully paint it on with a small brush rather than spraying over a larger area.  And do not use it within a few feet of a stream or pond because rain could carry it into the water, where it would kill aquatic organisms.  This is why we only recommend its usage in unusually stubborn cases.

 

More Trees Questions

Identifying Rhus lanceolata in Texas
April 28, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I think I've identified two small trees, 4 to 5 feet high at the back fence line and two in the front yard flower beds as prairie flameleaf sumac (or at least some kind of s...
view the full question and answer

Rocky Mountain Juniper Grazed by Deer
April 29, 2013 - I have four Colorado red cedar (Juniperus scopulorum). The deer have eaten from their height down. Now these narrow top to bottom evergreens have only tops left. Will the bottom fill in if I protect t...
view the full question and answer

Plants for the Shade of a Pine Tree in Pittsburg
June 03, 2013 - I live in Pittsburgh, PA. My neighbor has a huge pine tree. Last year everything I planted on that side near the tree died. That part of the yard only gets morning sun, as the tree overshadows it. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Can Texas Ebony seed pods be used as mulch in Edinburg TX
May 10, 2010 - I just bought a house with two large Texas ebony trees out front. I read somewhere that the seed pods could be used as mulch? Is this true? If so, would I need to remove the seeds from the pods fir...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-native grapefruit from seeds from Austin
April 30, 2013 - Can you grow ruby red grapefruit trees from seeds?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center