Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Tuesday - April 26, 2011

From: Kendallville, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Problem Plants
Title: Non-native mint invading flower beds in Kendallville IN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

A few years back we were given two sprouts of something referred to as peppermint tea. We planted in our flower bed and now it has taken over. It seems to start slow in the spring but doesn't take long to over grow all the other plants in the mix. When we try to remove it the "runners" pull up fairly easy but go on forever it seems. Can you please give us any hints on how to remove this invasive species so we can enjoy our plants again?

ANSWER:

When we went looking online for a plant called "peppermint tea," what we got were recipes for, well, peppermint tea. So, we looked at a couple recipes to see what plant they used, although we already suspected we knew. From wikiHow, here is how to make Peppermint Tea from scratch. And, from Adago Teas, here is a discussion of Peppermint.

The mints are various species of the genus Mentha and, like most plants referred to as "herbs," are native to the Mediterranean Basin. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow natively. As you pointed out, mints are very invasive because of their roots spreading. Sad to say, anything you spray on them to kill them will be more likely to kill your other plants. The mints are somewhat protected by their extensive underground root structure which the poisons cannot reach. By the same token, freezing winter weather will probably not eliminate them. Most herb gardeners recommend that mints be confined to pots and trimmed back fairly severely often.

Your best chance is to pull them out and keep pulling them out. Start as early in the Spring as you can, watching for those leaves to begin popping up and get them out, getting as much root each time as you can. Theoretically, with no leaves above ground to produce nutrition for the roots, the roots will eventually starve. Theoretically.

Advice we would give to any gardener is to thoroughly investigate any plant before it is purchased or planted. The best way to eliminate an invasive plant is to never plant it.

 

More Problem Plants Questions

Dealing with live oak suckers in Central Texas
March 05, 2015 - Hi, I have a couple huge Live Oak trees in my back yard. Trunks are 4' in diameter. These Live Oaks produce a lot of root sprouts/suckers. I had always head that a tree's roots feed on water/oxyg...
view the full question and answer

Protecting storm-damaged pecan and black walnut trees in TX
June 29, 2015 - Several trees on our property in northeast Texas were uprooted by a tornado. A pecan tree with a circumference greater than 93 inches was carried to the ground. Although it is completely horizontal,...
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady area near a pecan tree in Maryland
March 26, 2013 - I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have planted only natives in my front lawn. My backyard, which sports a pecan tree, fir, fig tree, and others I can't identify is dirt, just dirt. I have...
view the full question and answer

Skin allergies; is Juniper the culprit in Simi Valley, CA?
July 21, 2012 - My husband and I have had terrible skin allergy problems this spring (for me it's been 3 years) and think it may be the juniper bushes outside our bedroom and kitchen windows. Is there a fast growin...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets and weeds in Burleson TX
March 31, 2010 - I have lots of blue bonnets growing in my yard but they are overcome with weeds. What can I use to eliminate the weeds without killing the bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

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