Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 11, 2009

From: Golden Valley, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Control of invasive non-native Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What can I do to control garlic mustard that has moved into my wild area and what should I plant to combat this aggressive plant? Ostrich ferns, Pagoda dogwoods and emerald hemlocks have been recommended.

ANSWER:

Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) is an invasive introduced European species that is on numerous Federal and State Noxious Weeds lists. The Plant Conservation Alliance recommends removing the entire plant (roots included) when the population isn't too large and you want to protect desirable native plants from possible harm from herbicides.  With larger populations cutting the plants right above ground level before seed set is another possibility.  This will have to be continued throughout the growing season to keep the plants from going to seed.  In either case, the plants should be removed from the area and destroyed.  If the population is very large, it can be controlled with careful application of glyphosate herbicide.  Please read the details of control measures in the Plant Conservation Alliance link.

Of the three possiblities for a plant to combat the garlic mustard— Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock), Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf or pagoda dogwood), and Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern)—I would think that the ostrich fern would be most effective.   First of all, the hemlock and dogwood are relatively slow growing and require space between plants to grow—a ground space that the garlic mustard would happily occupy.  The ostrich fern plants can grow close together and; indeed, the ostrich fern is not recommended for small spaces because it is aggressive and tends to take over.  You certainly could have the ferns growing under and around either or both trees above if you would like to have the trees.


 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Alocasia in Fayetteville, AR
January 11, 2010 - I am trying to find out information on a plant that I received as a gift called an Alocaiso Plant, It a green, large, shiny green leaf plant with cream colored veins. Very beautiful and I would think...
view the full question and answer

Problems with azaleas
April 22, 2008 - Last summer I planted 10 evergreen Azaleas "Hino Crimson" I sprinkled a little rhody fertilizer in their holes before planting and gave them plenty of water all summer. They are all doing fine excep...
view the full question and answer

Difficulty with Clay Soil from Palm Bay, FL
August 22, 2012 - I had a very nice little native shady area behind my house for over 40 years, but now it has been cleared except for a 100 foot tall live oak in the center of this raised mound (50' x 80'). I've be...
view the full question and answer

Thorns on non-native orange trees in Greenwell Springs, LA
April 26, 2009 - Navel orange tree has thorns, why is this?
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive King Ranch bluestem and Coastal bermuda for horses
April 02, 2008 - Is blue stem grass mixed with coastal good for horses?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.