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

Sunday - May 31, 2009

From: Cooperstown, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Pests
Title: Problems with beheaded non-native Gerbera daisies in Cooperstown, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted my gerberas in my perennial bed - as usual. Something is beheading them and leaving the blooms along side the plant. Some of the bloom is eaten but most of it is right there. I have tried a rodent repellent mostly made up of black pepper oil. I have also tried cayenne sprinkled directly all over the flower and leaves. We have lots of birds, squirrels and woodchucks. What can I do to eliminate or at least repel whatever is doing the damage? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Do you have deer in the area? This sounds more like deer "tasting" to see if they like it. Apparently they don't, if they don't eat the whole bloom.  Doesn't really make any difference, we truly have no magic wand to keep critters from grazing on your plants. The birds are probably not guilty in this case, as that is not their usual fare. Squirrels are generally more fond of large seeds (especially sunflower seed put out for the birds), nuts and grains.

We don't have woodchucks in Texas (or groundhogs, as they are sometimes called) so we had to go looking for information. The woodchuck is mostly herbivorous, primarily eating wild grasses, other vegetation, berries and agricultural crops. However, they also eat grubs, grasshoppers, insects and snails, which is beneficial to the gardener. Clearing of forests for urban development (like building your house, for instance) has provided them with more suitable habitat. 

Rabbits? Well, gee, what's not to like about little fluffy bunnies? Lots, we guess, as you'll see in this article from PennState Cooperative Extension, Monroe County, PA, by Laurel Bishow, Penn State Master Gardener, Rabbit Resistant Plants.

A very comprehensive article with lots of links is this one from About.com: Landscaping Organic Pest Control for Insect and Rodent Garden Pests. It also has information on repelling deer. 

Conclusion? We don't have any. We don't know what is eating your Gerbera jamesonii, which is, by the way non-native to North America, but rather to South America, Africa and Asia.  If that is the only thing that is being eaten, it may just be that they will have to be sacrificed. What lengths you go to, with traps, netting, sprays, etc., will depend more on how badly you want to keep those particular plants. 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Japanese maple
September 28, 2008 - I have a small Japanese Maple that I planted last fall. I planted it under a huge pecan tree where it gets dappled shade. It has grown very little this spring and summer and the leaves are gray and ...
view the full question and answer

How to eliminate roadside thistles
May 26, 2015 - When we drive along the highway we see lots of wildflowers and no thistles in the median. How does the Highway Department keep the thistles out? Here in Kerrville, we are overwhelmed by thistles thi...
view the full question and answer

Can the non-native ylang ylang tree grow outdoors in Arizona
July 14, 2015 - Can the ylang ylang tree grow outdoors in Casa Grande, Arizona?
view the full question and answer

Are non-native Cleveland pear trees poisonous to dogs in Rushsylvania, OH
May 11, 2011 - Are Cleveland pear trees poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Growing Giant Pumpkins in Georgia
April 15, 2013 - I have tried to grow giant pumpkins in the Atlanta, GA area. Each year I lose several strong plants to vine borers. I have tried tin foil wrapped around the stems, and I even painted the stems with Se...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center