Issue: November 22, 2003

Removing sumac shrub


Next to my fence, I have a sumac bush that I tried to remove. I was able to get the main top portion out, but due to the extensive root system, I was not able to remove the main root. How can I make sure this does not grow again?


Persistence is your best course of action. There are some broadleaf herbicides (that kill broad-leafed plants), but even using chemicals may require more than one treatment. If you prefer not to use herbicides, you can eliminate the plant by digging up any plants that begin to grow from the roots. If they are coming from the base of the plant, cut them off and dig as much of the primary stem as possible.

A combination of physical removal and chemical applications to the offending plant will be faster than either of these alone. At the time the plant is first removed, application of a translocated broadleaf herbicide will reduce the amount of regrowth possible, but even with that treatment, follow-up treatments will be required. If you allow the sprouts that grow from the roots to become too well established, you will prolong your agony. Frequent attention to the problem, combined with chemical treatment or physical removal of sprouts from the base of the plant or roots, is the best way to deal with the problem.

Transplanted New Mexican wants New Mexico plants


I am formerly from New Mexico and moved to a new apartment in Portland, Oregon. I'm looking for a, nativeš New Mexico plant or tree that I can use as a houseplant. My home is generally 68 (winter) to 80 (summer) degrees, and I have a wonderful western window to make the most of the limited light. Do you have any suggestions of plants that I might try? Do you know of any chile varieties that work particularly well indoors?


Native trees and shrubs from New Mexico in place of Ficus will be a challenge. Most of our trees and shrubs will be a problem because they require a winter period of cool to cold temperatures. The reason we grow ficus and other tropical plants is that they do not require temperatures below those at which we are comfortable indoors. If you can provide some New Mexico style winter conditions (difficult to achieve in Portland), you might be able to grow some of our plants. I think I would stay with tropicals.

I have grown chiles indoors several times. In fact, I have some habaneros and jalapenos on my front porch now. When it gets colder, I will take them indoors. Even the larger varieties of "New Mexico" type chiles (Big Jim, etc.) can be grown in pots and kept where they will not freeze. In Portland, freezing will be a rare concern. However, without dry soils and high temperatures, you may find that the chiles don't develop their pungency like in New Mexico. Others that make good houseplants are chile pequin and cayennes. The Tabasco types also make good ornamentals and can be used in cooking. Finally, Dr. Paul Bosland, NMSU's world-renowned chile breeder, has been selecting shorter chiles for use as potted plants. You can find some of these on the Chile Pepper Institute website or in seed catalogs.

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Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!