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

Tuesday - January 22, 2013

From: LaGrange, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Need help fighting grass burs in La Grange, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have 4 acres of wildflowers planted in my front yard. Unfortunately, grassburs have crept in & I need to control them with a pre-emergent. Will this keep the wildflowers from blooming? Also, would like to apply a fertilizer, & the same question applies - will this affect my wildflowers?

ANSWER:

Grass burs have many common names, some of which we won’t mention in this space. There are at least 11 species listed in the USDA Plants Database, but the one you are dealing with is most likely Cenchrus spinifex (Coastal sandbur) (see distribution map) , or perhaps Cenchrus echinatus (southern sandbur) (see distribution map). 

Grass burs are considered to be summer annuals and can be controlled either chemically or mechanically. Pre-emergent herbicides offer a good means of chemical control of these weeds by preventing seed germination. Many of your wildflowers are also annuals however, so the timing of application is critical so you aren’t also preventing the wildflowers from germinating as well.

Mechanical control involves pulling (or digging) up the grass burrs before they flower and set seed. Cutting off the flower stalks before the seeds mature is also effective.

I’m going to refer you to a couple of links,  and a couple of answers to previous questions that will help flesh out these strategies.

The first link is to Texas AgriLife Extension, Aransas County Office, and has a thorough discussion of the problems and some cures for sand burs.

This link to Aggie-horticulture includes information concerning herbicide use.

These two answers to previous questions should also prove helpful

   #878

   #7105

Another source of help is the Fayette County Office of Texas Agrilife Extension.

 

From the Image Gallery


Grass bur
Cenchrus spinifex

More Problem Plants Questions

Why is my Texas mountain laurel growing so slowly?
July 22, 2015 - I have a Mountain Laurel, Anacacho Orchid Tree and Desert Willow on the northern side of our yard - all three get full sun most of the day. The Mountain Laurel is closer to the east side. The other...
view the full question and answer

Is Robinia pseudoaccia a good replacement tree for Shumard oaks in Austin TX?
February 27, 2013 - Recently two of our Shumard trees in the front of our house died. Both trees were small/medium in size having only been growing for 13-17 years. I've been reading about Black Locust trees which accor...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
March 10, 2003 - Clover has taken over and just about covered the Bluebonnets. Is there any way of removing the clover such as with fertilizer or something else?
view the full question and answer

Clearing out non-native Himalayan blackberry
January 25, 2009 - Can you recommend a way to clear an area of Himalayan blackberry? We have cut the canes back but wish to eliminate them completely so that we can replant that area with native plants attractive to wil...
view the full question and answer

Need something to compete with Virginia wild rye in Bristol, TN.
July 29, 2011 - I have been working for 4 years to convert a large area of sunny lawn (150' x 40') to a native woodland planting, using native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses. Although I used seeds of a variety ...
view the full question and answer

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