En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 28, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Cool, wet summer effect on evergreen sumac
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I have 3 evergreen sumac bushes that I planted as a screen between my house and my neighbors two years ago. They are located in a part of our yard that receives a lot of runoff. However, the water drains within an hour. Despite all the rain we have had this year, the evergreen sumac plants were looking great. Then, the rain stopped and one by one they have begun to wilt. Based on my research on your site it appears they may all have the vascular fungal wilt. Is there anything I can do to save these plants ? If not, do you have any other suggestions of plants that are VF resistant that I can plant as an 8-10 foot screen? Thanks for your advice!

ANSWER:

First, thank you for researching your plant problems on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website. Now, it would appear you are correct that some sort of fungal problem is causing the wilt on your Rhus virens (evergreen sumac), after the weird summer of cool June and July with record amounts of rain, and then, suddenly, August. Think about it, though. How would you look if you had stood in mud with cold water showering on you for six weeks? As you probably established when you researched the subject, Rhus virens is a native of Texas, and its habitat is naturally dry hillsides and water needs low. All hope is not lost, though. Texas natives are tough and resilient, and somewhere in the genetic memory of your sumacs are other summers when the weather was very unusual, including lots of rain. Let's don't waste those roots, yet. Before you consider amputation, how about a Bandaid or two? The major enemies of any fungal disease are sunlight and air movement. So, begin, if you haven't already, pruning away the dead wood and opening up spaces in the plant for air circulation. Leave as many leaves as you can, though, as the plant needs those for nutrition. And don't let the plant completely dry out, either. Just because it had too much moisture for a while doesn't mean it has a reservoir stored away for dry, hot days.

Don't do anything else for now, because neither the plant nor the gardener need to be involved in excavation in the heat of August and September. If, in November, you are convinced your plants are dead, then it's not only pleasant enough to get out there and dig them up, but it's also a very good time to plant a replacement. May we suggest, for your requirements of screening between yards, Morella cerifera (wax myrtle). This Texas native will grow to about the same height as the sumac of 8 to 12 feet, and is very attractive to several species of birds and butterflies. Not only that, the leaves have a spicy fragrance that makes pruning less of a chore.


Rhus virens

Morella cerifera

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with non-native Cleyera and Red-tip photinia
June 01, 2008 - I planted a row of Cleyera in a bed that receives sunlight for about 3 hours during the middle of the day. My problem is that a number of the plants are dying. It begins with the leaves on one small...
view the full question and answer

Powdery mildew hits Rock Rose in Round Rock Texas
May 05, 2011 - My beautiful Rock Roses have gotten spots of white fuzzy "fur" on their leaves in the past month. This is not something they have ever had before and I'm worried its some kind of disease. Is it so...
view the full question and answer

Beetles in spineless prickly pear in Austin
June 05, 2010 - I have an enormous spineless prickly pear in my front garden. It's about 6 feet tall, and 6 feet wide. It has blossoming yellow flower. However, it also has large colonies of black beetle-ish bugs li...
view the full question and answer

Wound in Monterey Oak from Austin
June 20, 2012 - I have a 10 year old Monterey Oak that has developed a wound that is secreting a white bubbly substance that has attracted all the bugs, like butterfly's , pill bugs, ants, and several others I don'...
view the full question and answer

Identification of worm feeding on chockecheery
August 03, 2007 - I am looking to find out what sort of worm looking insect, is commonly found on chokecherry trees. It has a turquoise appearance with yellow fingerlike projections on the back. It suctions onto the ...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center