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 Pests Questions

Plants ants avoid from McAllen TX
May 22, 2010 - Which native plants do ANTS avoid (are there?)? We have a big ant problem here. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Possible damage by invasive, non-native earthworms in compost
January 03, 2007 - I received a worm bin (vermicomposter) for Christmas. The instructions that came with the bin say to use the red wiggler worm (Eisenia foetida) and that it is okay if some of the worms go into your g...
view the full question and answer

Why are the eastern red cedars in Bastrop/Travis County turning brown?
May 11, 2009 - I live on the Bastrop/Travis county, TX line and have many eastern red cedars on my property. About 10 of them are dying and it has happened quickly with the onset of the warmer weather. I noticed d...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of native plants as natural mosquito repellants
February 08, 2007 - I live in Austin Texas and have what I would consider a mosquito infestation in my garden for most of the year. Are there native plants to this region that are proven to be naturally mosquito repella...
view the full question and answer

Lake Plantings and Geese
May 10, 2013 - I live on a small lake in Wichita, KS and we are over run with Canada geese. I would like to plant flowers around my patio (which is not allowed to be fenced off). Are there any flowers or plants that...
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