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?


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

Monday - May 11, 2009

From: Canton, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Problems with Thuga occidentalis in Canton MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have emerald arborvitae that have become very "shaggy" and somewhat orange at the base of some leaves, while my neighbors look compact and dark green. What am I doing wrong?


Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) or white cedar is a widely-used evergreen hedge plant. We found out that the 'Emerald' cultivar is also referred to as 'Smaragd' and is considered a smaller version of the traditional plant. About the only clue we found is that after an especially cold winter, the foliage will turn yellow-brown. That's not orange, and if your neighbors are not having the same problem, then we can only think that there must be some kind of stress on your trees that the others are not experiencing. Have your plants been watered sufficiently? Are they in the neighborhood of a large tree that might have roots interfering with your arborvitae? Have you examined the tree for bagworms? Here is an article from Ohio State University on arborvitae that includes some of the things that can cause problems with the tree and that mentions the 'Emerald' cultivar.


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Oak roots damaged by ax from Austin
July 03, 2013 - Hello. I am attempting to create my own tiny copy of the Wildflower Center within my yard. I'm using all native, drought tolerant plants. My front yard is full of live oaks. I used a sod cutter la...
view the full question and answer

Problems with wax myrtle in Austin
February 01, 2009 - I have been struggling with wax myrtles for the last year! We live in NW Austin, The plants start off great and then thin out, leaves go brown, and die. I then cut off the dead wood in the hope that t...
view the full question and answer

Trumpet Vine Dropping Buds
July 25, 2013 - My trumpet vine is dropping its buds before flowering. This happened last year as well. Do you know what is causing this and what I can do to prevent it?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Chinaberry tree from Tucson AZ
September 05, 2013 - I have a 30+ year old Chinaberry tree and this year the branches are much sparser with leaves and there are a lot of small dead branches. Should I fertilize and what should I use? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Small tan balls on oak from Pipe Creek TX
May 21, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, our spanish oak is growing tan colored lumpy balls about the size and weight of a marshmallow..sometimes just one at the end of a short stem and sometimes 2-3 clumped together....
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center