En Español

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
2 ratings

Sunday - February 25, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Control of sooty mold from aphids in Crape Myrtle
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a crape myrtle in my front flower bed that has a sooty black substance on the leaves and trunk. I've done research and understand this is caused by aphids. My question is how do I get the black sooty substance off the tree and what do you recommend for getting rid of the aphids?

ANSWER:

Sooty mold is a fungus, or more commonly a complex of two or more fungal species, that grows on honeydew or on plant exudates. Honeydew is a waste-product of aphids and other plant-sucking insects. As honeydew is excreted by sucking insects, it falls and coats any surface upon which it lands. Sooty mold fungi invade and live upon this sugary coating. These fungi do not infest the leaf ifself. Thus, sooty mold may often be found growing on any exposed surface beneath aphid-infested trees and shrubs. Sooty mold can cause great harm to plants, however, by blocking sunlight to the leaf surface below and diminishing photosynthesis.

Sooty mold can often be successfully removed by rinsing with water from a garden hose. However, this will be most effective after the aphids or other honeydew-producing insects are destroyed. Sometimes sooty mold development is so severe and persistent that only time and exchange of leaves through the growing seasons will remove it all.

Aphids are not especially difficult to control and non-chemical methods are usually very effective. Insecticidal soaps are often the remedy of choice for many gardeners. Various brands of insecticidal soaps may be found at just about any retail nursery or garden center. Be sure to read and carefully follow all label directions when using any pesticide, organic or chemical.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Mountain Laurel slowly dying in San Antonio, TX
December 26, 2012 - My Texas Mountain Laurel seems to be dying in a slow unusual manner. Over the past two weeks the leaves have been turning yellow and falling off starting with the south facing side of my multi-tru...
view the full question and answer

Overwatering and fertilization of whiteleaf manzanita
July 27, 2007 - Hi, I have an Arctostaphylos Dr. Hurd, southern California coast, several years old, 10 feet, that has a few large branches with yellowing and spotted leaves... also dropping many. causes? remedy? sh...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on new water oak turning brown from Matagorda TX
May 30, 2013 - We had water oaks planted in January when they had no leaves. Leaves came on but are now turning brown.
view the full question and answer

Red oak leaves have a swelling along the veins
June 17, 2015 - I have red oaks in my back yard, approx 30 or more have a disease that are wilting the leaves. Looking at the back of the leaf there is swelling along the spines. I've gone to one nursery in town ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Chamaecyparis pisiflora turning brown in Fuqua-Varina NC
December 10, 2012 - I have a "Soft Serve False Cypress" Chamaecyparis pisifera'Dow Whiting PPAF, that has only been in the ground for 6-7 months. I just noticed that the branches and leaves are starting to die, turni...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center