Contact Us Host an Event 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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - August 11, 2006

From: Caribou, ME
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Alternatives to non-native, invasive Pampa grass
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Could you please tell me if Cortaderia Selloana is "zone 4" hardy? Also how to start Opuntia Humifusa from cuttings? Do I let them stand upright dry and with no soil until they form the callous? Please help! Thank You So Much! Janet

ANSWER:

Most references give USDA cold-hardiness zones 6 or 7 as the northern limit for Cortaderia selloana, Pampas grass. It might survive in your area if located in a protected spot, but it might be just as well for you if it won't. Many people who plant this South American native in their gardens end up regretting doing so because of its legendary aggressiveness - it tends to resist all efforts to control its relentless expansion.

You might consider some native alternatives which would be perfectly suited to your climate and are much less likely to cause headaches later on. Some possibilities are Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum; Indiangrass, Sorghastrum nutans and Canada wild rye, Elymus canadensis. All are stately grasses native to Maine.

The cactus you are asking about, Opuntia humifusa, Eastern prickly-pear is not native to your area either, and will likely need winter protection. They are easy to propagate, though. Just let the wound caused by seperating the pads dry for a few days and then insert the severed end in evenly moist, well-drained media. It should root within a few weeks. Here is a link to a great web page on cactus propagation which goes into more detail.
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Planting distance for non-native crepe myrtles in Lawton OK
June 14, 2009 - We just bought Tonto Crepe Myrtle trees. I was just curious how far away from the house we should plant them.
view the full question and answer

Will non-native Star Jasmine survive outside in winter in Ohio
October 27, 2008 - Hi! I have two Star Jasmine in pots (we brought them back to southern Ohio from CA this year). Should we bring them inside for the winter? Would they do okay outside next winter if we plant them in...
view the full question and answer

Comments on non-native Tecomas from Phoenix AZ
October 11, 2011 - There was a question regarding red Tecomas but I see no way to make a comment directly to that. There are indeed red Tecomas on the market one being Tecoma x 'Bells of Fire' tm and ppaf. I am the ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow in Villanova PA
July 03, 2009 - My weeping willow (6 years old,80+ft tall),up until this year used to be full and healthy. Last year I trimmed the lower portion of the trunk by cutting off the low hanging branches, but this year so ...
view the full question and answer

How to Deal With Goutweed?
June 12, 2015 - Hi, I'm wondering what plants (groundcover) would best compete against goutweed. It's coming up all around some existing potentilla shrubs and some nice bulbs and prairie perennials. I would hate to...
view the full question and answer

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