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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

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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Tuesday - August 10, 2010

From: San Pedro, CA
Region: California
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Need help controling suckers from an ornamental plum in San Pedro, CA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have an ornamental plum tree in my garden which produces a lot of suckers in my vegetable beds. I do not want to use harmful chemicals and cutting them back is a hopeless venture and leaves small stumps. Is there any ecologically safe solution? Thank you.

ANSWER:

There are several trees that are referred to as ornamental plum, one possibility is Prunus cerasifera. This plant is a native to Asia, and as such, falls out side our area of focus since the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.

However, one of the things that members of the genus Prunus do is produce suckers. These are stems that grow up from the roots, which give rise to thickets in their native habitats. This link to Hortiscope discusses the process and answers several questions about growing plums. Chemical control of the suckers in your vegetable bed is not a viable option, so cutting them back may be your only choice.  Cut them below the soil line for greatest effect. An answer to a previous question which describes the process of removing oak tree suckers may be helpful.  

For a source of help closer to home, contact the folks at the office of LA County Cooperative Extension.

 

 

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