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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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Thursday - December 02, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Planting, Problem Plants, Vines
Title: Eliminating non-native Asian Jasmine in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a large bed in front of the house full of jasmine that was planted by the builder 25 years ago. What suggestions do you have to eliminate it and prepare the bed to plant native flowers and plants?

ANSWER:

A later note from you indicated that your plant is Tracelospermum asiaticum, Asian jasmine, native to Japan and Korea. If it has been there 25 years and has not overgrown your trees and other plants you must have been very vigilant in controlling it. It is capable of being quite invasive, and herbicides have little or no effect on it. You have chosen a good time of year to go after this plant. If you want to plant native plants there, which we applaud, you need to get the roots and vines totally out of the soil, perhaps even taking the soil out and replacing it with fresh soil and a generous helping of compost. We would suggest digging it out, going after every root you can find. The stems root where they touch the ground, so leaving any vines unscathed in your yard can well mean they will be back. You will probably have to stay after them for several years, learn to recognize the plant when it first peeps out of the ground, cut it down as far as you can reach and pull out as much as you can. Deny the roots of nutrition long enough and they will eventually starve, but you must be thorough. Doing it now when you are not worried about protecting other plants already in the bed will make it that much easier.

If you get this done soon enough, you can certainly get some woody plants into the new bed, shrubs and perhaps small trees, depending on the size of the area. Be careful to get plants in the ground as quickly as possible after they have come from the nursery. Check them for being root bound. A plant that has been too long in a pot will tend to grow around in circles and, when planted, cannot get its roots out into the nice new soil you have provided. Cutting some of those roots will avoid further "girdling." It is a little late in the year to plant wildflower seeds, if that is in your plans, but you can plant perennial bedding plants early in the spring, hopefully for first-year bloom. A layer of good quality shredded hardwood mulch will not only protect the new roots from cold, but is attractive. As it decomposes, it will compost into the soil and continue to contribute to the nutrition and drainage in the soil.

 

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