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

Non-native Purple Hyacinth from Sylvania OH
May 21, 2012 - I am wondering if I plant a Purple Hyacinth Bean vine seed under a tree and allow it to grow up the tree trunk, will it kill the tree?
view the full question and answer

Non-native zoysia and bermuda grasses in Austin
July 11, 2013 - We have Bermuda grass in the front and Zoysia in the back yards. The back grass is fine but the front yard Bermuda isn't. We have watered once each week during the spring and during the past 3 weeks...
view the full question and answer

Common name of non-native Senna corymbosa (Argentine senna)
July 16, 2011 - I just had a plant identified as Senna corymbosa. Can you tell me whether it's a Texas native and what its common name is? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Non-native Podocarpus macrophyllus in Ft Worth TX
November 12, 2011 - I know this question does not pertain to a native plant but I've spent too much time not finding an answer to my question. I have many mature Podocarpus macrophyllus bushes at my house I purchased in...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Indian Hawthorn in Richmond TX
February 19, 2010 - I have a lot of Indian Hawthorne plants. I have noticed over the last couple of years that sporadically one will develope a brown area that looks like it was burned or had gasoline poured on it. The...
view the full question and answer

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