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

Sunday - July 14, 2013

From: Eastpointe, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pests, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Are non-native hostas causing fly invasion from Eastpointe MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in Michigan with a small backyard. I have 5 large hostas with the purple flower blooms which are located by my patio. I was wondering if they can be causing my large population of unwanted flies? Any advice would be helpful.


From Wikipedia: "Hosta is a genus of about 23–45 species of plants commonly known as hostas, plantain lilies (particularly in Britain) and occasionally by the Japanese name giboshi. Hostas are widely cultivated as shade-tolerant foliage plants. The genus is currently placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae,  and is native to northeast Asia."

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 they evolved; in your case, Macomb County, in southeast Michigan.

Therefore, this plant is out of our area of expertise, but we can at least address your question as to whether they are attracting flies. All we could learn was that the only insects the hostas attracted were snails and slugs. There is a native member of the group called "carrion flowers" - Lysichiton americanus (American skunkcabbage). They smell like rotting meat and thus draw in the flies that happen to be the pollinators of the plant.

However, we found no indication that the genus Hosta smells that way nor that it is pollinated by flies. It is more likely the too-fresh manure in some recently-installed fertilizer or a small dead animal in your garden is what is attracting flies.




More Non-Natives Questions

Identifying problem with non-native plumbagos in San Antonio
November 21, 2009 - Barbara Medford answered my question on plumbagos..we have the ones that grow crazy in TX (not sure which species, but w/ the bright blue/purple blooms..). I have pictures and wasn't sure where to se...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a non-native rose from Akron OH
August 30, 2012 - Can I transplant a rose plant that I have in sunny area to an area that will be partially shady?
view the full question and answer

Eliminating non-native invasive Asian jasmine in Temple TX
February 06, 2010 - Hello, behind my backyard fence there is a large growth (about 300 to 400 sq feet) of Asian jasmine. It was planted by previous owners. It prevents growth of native plants like holly. What is the prac...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Moth Mullein as a garden plant from Starksville MS
July 09, 2011 - I collected seeds from a beautiful Moth Mullein growing in a lot which will soon be bulldozed. Would I regret sowing them in the back of a sunny perennial bed this fall. These are from the white-pin...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 12, 2014 - We live in Magnolia TX and have a shrub we can't identify. It's evergreen and has waxy leaves with a serrated edge that are about an inch in length. They have pink flowers and they grow to ab...
view the full question and answer

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