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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.

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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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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!

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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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.

 

 

 

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