View Full Version : Mustard Eradication and Native Plants

07-23-2003, 03:13 PM
I wrote a few months back asking about plants for the new zone we`re in now in our new place. Zone 18 Our property borders a park and a national forest and so we talked about how I needed to be especially careful about the native plants I use. Well, we`re settled in now and thinking about landscaping. Autumn seems to be a good time to plant, right? There is a gorgeous corner of our lot where about 5 mature Coast Live Oaks are growing. Unfortunately the ground cover beneath and near them is mostly that invasive stuff I was told is mustard. I need to know how to get rid of it. Can someone help me? Does it reseed or come back from the root or both? My neighbor told me to use Roundup. Yuck! I`d rather pull every one of them out by hand. The property also has an invasive grass that turns yellow as summer wears on and the pointy seed heads drill into your socks and clothes. These also must go. Among these nasties are some actual natives, California buckwheat and white sage, that I want to encourage. Can I get some suggestions for ground covers beneath oaks? Would wild strawberry work? Are there any native vines I could grow on the fence under the oaks in part shade? There is a steep bank adjacent that gets full sun that I would like some cover on. I will check any species mentioned for correct variety for my area. Thanks so much. Wish I could see your gardens! </p>


07-24-2003, 05:18 PM
Hi Valerie,

The folks in this group are very knowledgeable! You
will be receiving a reply closer to the weekend when
most the these good folks have more time to respond
in length.

I`ve got 3+ acres and the mustard is really a time-consumer
for me! This summer alone, I`ve weed-whipped my land 4 times
and it just keeps comming back. I`m not complaining,
mind you. I love getting out in the grove among my
avocados and natives, with all the red-tailed and
red-shouldered hawks. The hummers buzz by, the
anise-swallowtales go from one flower to another.

I never had a good time like this when I lived in Newark..[!]

AlainUSDA 9BSunset # 19 </p>

07-27-2003, 03:50 AM
Thanks. So cutting it is the way you deal with it? I guess I was wondering if it was useful to pull it out or if anyone had any other ways. It`s so disgusting. It`s all over the park next door with these poor little white sages, chamise, etc. being squeezed away. I think I may sneak over there once I get my place under control and at least cut some down when I can. You`re only one zone away from me, just a little warmer, right? Know what ya mean about being out there, just this morning I saw a bird I`ve seen only once before; a phainopepla! I think it was eating elderberries. Are elderberries native? There are lots of them around too.</p>


07-27-2003, 03:54 AM
PS Your place sounds wonderful. What natives do you have? I love hearing about where people live and what natives they have. California is so diverse! I`m from Ohio. Big change. </p>


07-28-2003, 01:22 PM
I am just south of Palomar Mountain. Besides growing
mustard?! For the past 2 years, I`ve been tearing out
lawn [much to my wife`s dismay] and replacing it
with natives that are butterfly and hummer friendly.

My plants were chosen by the assistance they gave
to the insects and hummers:

Achillea 'Anthea', Asclepias Tuberosa, Buddleji Davidii,
Cuphea Lyssopifolia, some salvias, penstemons, a
'red hot poker', cleveland sage, bee balm, galvezia,
mimulus, monardella, to name a few.

Yes, I just weed-whip the the mustard. That does it
for me



07-29-2003, 10:07 AM
Hi Valerie:

As you have discovered, mustard is one of the very worst weeds you can encounter-it actively shuts down native ecology, including killing oak trees. Fortunately, it is typically pretty easy to eradicate we do tens of acres per year. We actually have mustard-specific herbicides at our disposal we are licensed applicators. However, in the interest of an organic approach, we have found it very effective to pop out the mustard about 2 inches below soil level with a pointed shovel. It usually doesn`t come back. Unfortunately, weed wacking doesn`t kill the crown on these invasive perennials and sometimes spreads the seed all over the place.

The next part of the solution, as you have already figured out, is to re-establish the native ecology under the oak tree. This should help create a sustainable, fairly weed free plant community. Companion plants include Lonicera, Ribes, Mimulus Diplacus, Rhamnus, Arctostaphylos, Thalictrum, Heuchera, Venegasia, Clematis, Sambucus big bush/tree, Phacelia perennial forms, Heteromeles big bush/tree, Vitis, and Elymus to name a few. Hope this helps.</p>

07-31-2003, 04:23 PM
Hi Valerie,

Mustard is controllable with hand weeding but the key is persistence. It keeps coming up well after the rains stops so you need to have a regular weeding schedule well into summer to get it under control. From my experience on a restoration project, it takes about three years to get good control with each year taking much less effort than the year before.

Mexican elderberry is native in your area. I have that and a fig tree in my front yard and the birds are abundant on both of them. I have Salvias, Zauchneria, Galvezia, and Fairyduster that pull the hummers in. I can`t seem to keep Manzanitas and Penstemons alive but they are excellent for hummingbirds. Ribes under your oaks should work too. Good luck.

08-18-2003, 11:57 AM
Just to add one thing, that I do not think that anyone directly answered. Yes, Blue Elderberries are native, either Sambucus caerulea at high elevations, or Sambucus mexicana at below 3000 feet. I have them too across the street from me in Oakland and they have had berries for the past month or so.</p>