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?


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
1 rating

Sunday - April 12, 2009

From: Midwest City, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Problems with Crape Myrtles in Oklahoma.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I planted Crape Myrtles,Catawba, that are about 4 feet high. I planted them last October. They all had new leaves on them a week ago. All of the leaves are now brown and shriveled up. There is a touch of green on some of the leaves but not much. Are they dead? Did this happen because of the cold? Will fertilizing with fish guts (not sure of product name) help them?


Crape myrtle  Lagerstroemia indica , even though it appears to be the "State Shrub" of Texas, is not a native of the United States. From your description, it sounds like the new spring growth on your plants got hit pretty hard by the cold snap that passed through Texas and Oklahoma. Fish guts are not going to undo the damage caused by the cold. Your best bet is to watch and wait to see if the plants recover on their own.

By the way, we would be remiss if we didn't mention that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is focused on the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Plants native to an area are already adapted to the conditions by millennia of experience and will require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. Crape myrtles are native to southeast Asia, and are therefore out of our range of expertise.

These two websites can give you more information about Lagerstroemia indica:


University of Georgia Extension


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

New Jersey Tea shrub wilting and losing leaves
December 30, 2013 - I have New Jersey Tea shrubs transplanted last spring from nursery stock (18 tall, grown local) I live in SE WI. They are planted in part shade. There has been 6" of snow on the ground for weeks now...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on young bur oak
August 06, 2007 - I saw your response on 7/25 about leaves on mature live oaks turning yellow, then brown because of excessive rain. The same thing is happening to our young burr oak. Leaves are turning yellowish, th...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Juniperus ashei in San Antonio
May 27, 2011 - I live in San Antonio and have many juniper trees. On inspection I do not see insects or any other form of damage, but my trees are turning brown and dying. I have already had to cut one down. When...
view the full question and answer

Drought-resistant and grub-resistant grass for Smithville TX
October 02, 2012 - I want a drought resistant grass for a sunny area that is also resistant to grubs. I have lots of grubs but want a healthy soil of good microbes. Any ideas? Zoysia, Buffalo? I noticed that Tech Turf r...
view the full question and answer

Problem with unknown tree in Austin, Texas
July 23, 2013 - Have recently moved to Austin, Texas and have a tree in my backyard that has been dropping leaves and one major branch appears to be dead. That branch has hard rust colored sap circles (about penny si...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center