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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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Wednesday - August 08, 2007

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Disposal of non-native invasive Houttuynia cordata
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am a homeower in The Woodlands with a very difficult problem in my butterfly garden. I have an impossibly invasive weed that I cannot get rid of -- so much so that I'm thinking of just paving over my butterfly garden and being done with it. I have attached photos of the offender and would love to hear from you about what it is and what I can do about it, short of paving over my beautiful garden. I have checked numerous websites but have been unable to find a weed similar to the one I have in my yard. I'm hoping you can help. Thank you so much!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants believes that your weed is Houttuynia cordata. This is an Asian species that is extremely invasive in the garden. Although it has been sold as an ornamental for gardens, its potential for being very invasive outweighs any aesthetic appeal it might have. You may find it very, very difficult to eradicate. According to the following web page, your best bet is to remove the plants by hand and keep doing so as they reappear. Be very careful when disposing of the material you take out. Incinerating the plant material you remove is the best plan of action. You can also read the comments of other people who are also trying to get rid of it. Good luck getting rid of this pest!
 

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