Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Monday - September 28, 2009

From: Carmichael, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native creeping fig and non-native nutgrass in Carmichael CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Will creeping fig choke out nut grass?

ANSWER:

No. Nothing will choke out nutgrass, Cyperus rotundus. And planting creeping fig, Ficus pumila, would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Nutgrass originated in Africa, Southern Europe and Southern Asia. Creeping fig came from Japan, China and Vietnam. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Therefore, both these invasive, aggressive plants are out of our range of expertise. However, trying to control or prevent the propagation of alien invasive plants is well within our scope. 

First, the nutgrass, sometimes called nutsedge. It spreads from rhizomes that can be as much as 18 inches underground. Herbicides (which we recommend neither for nor against) can do little damage to the plant, because of its very deep rhizomes and the difficulty of getting the herbicide to those tubers that store food for the plant. You could try some of the suggestions from HowToGetRidofStuff.com.

On to creeping fig, Ficus pumila. While it is promoted by commercial nurseries as an evergreen ground cover, the information we found from people who had it in their yards, left by previous owners, is that they hate it. Even with vigorous pruning, it is nearly impossible to contain. It will grow up and over anything it can get to, including trees, which then die from lack of sunlight. It can damage wood sidings or fences with the adhesive in its runners that permits it to climb, and cutting it off at the roots does no good, because it roots itself, and you may find runners coming up 20 feet away. Underneath it all, the nutgrass will still be quietly flourishing. 

You can't do anything but pull out, and keep pulling out, the nutgrass, but you can prevent the problems with the creeping fig by never planting it.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Problems with Texas Ash and non-native Bradford Pear in Hutto TX
January 27, 2011 - We have planted two trees in our back yard. The first one(a Bradford Pear) died and the second one (a Texas ash) doesn't look like it's doing very well. Our back yard is mostly black clay about 1 f...
view the full question and answer

Non-native daylilies and pachysandra in same area from New York City
April 07, 2012 - Will daylilies and pachysandra thrive if planted in the same bed, or will they harm each other?
view the full question and answer

Replacing non-native boxwood in Austin
October 03, 2011 - I have a large maze garden, possibly boxwood, originally planted in the 1950's, in Austin, Texas. About 1/3 of it has died out, probably due to drought, heat and age. Should I attempt to replant ju...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
February 20, 2014 - I'm not sure of county of origin. It was given to me by someone I no longer have contact with. When I initially received it I thought it was just a small potted vine of some type. I've had it a yea...
view the full question and answer

Non-native ornamental peach purchased in Georgetown TX
March 29, 2011 - I purchased an "ornamental peach" at a plant sale in Georgetown, TX. Only info it had on the tag: 6' tall. The leaves are long and narrow, burgundy, with serrated edges; is in a 1-qt pot. Any ca...
view the full question and answer

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