Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 26, 2009

From: Buckeye, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native hibiscus in Buckeye, AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have been having problems with our hibiscus plants. They are planted near 3 queen palms behind our pool. All were planted new three years ago. Early in the spring we had two just suddenly start drying up and within two weeks were totally gone. When we pulled them up there was just a root ball. We had done nothing different. They were getting water. We fertilize the palms, but it says it's OK for hibiscus too. Now we have three more that started drying up, with one of them being a new one that we replaced. How can they be good for two summers and then start dying off when we are doing nothing different? Please help.

ANSWER:

Due to the large volume of questions, we ask that you please limit your questions to topics related to North American native plants.

There are about 300 species of the genus Hibiscus, a few of them native to North America. However, the natives are all found in the South and Southwest portions of the United States. The hibiscus is considered a tropical plant, hardy in Zones 8 to 10. We suspect that what you have is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis with a probable origin of tropical Asia, and therefore out of our range of expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We are focused on the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Plants native to an area will be accustomed to the environment, including the climate, rainfall and soils, and require less water, fertilizer and maintenance.

When any plant that has been performing well suddenly begins to fail, you have to ask what in the environment has changed.  These plants are ordinarily grown in greenhouses, shipped in protected, usually refrigerated, trucks, and then sold from greenhouse showrooms. At some point your plants discovered the real world, and it was not satisfactory to them. It could be the soil, alkaline or acidic, maybe the fertilizer, perhaps sudden changes in temperature. 

For some leads to the answer you need, go to Hidden Valley Hibiscus Tropical Hibiscus Care

 


 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Evergreen hedge for constant rain
June 24, 2008 - We live in Washington State up north by Canadian border. We need a hedge that will survive the constant rain. We have tried cedar. They seem to turn brown and die,one at a time so we keep replacing th...
view the full question and answer

Mediterranean Pines indigenous to Verde Valley AZ
January 01, 2012 - Are the tall, thin Mediterranean/Pencil Pines growing in the Verde Valley in Arizona indigenous to the area? They are so plentiful, but are not identified as an indigenous evergreen. If not, how did...
view the full question and answer

Damage to ruellia in Monroe LA
October 26, 2009 - I have hundreds of Ruellia Brittoniana. Dwarf Katie White, Katie Blue and Katie Pink. I am finding holes in some of the leaves, Some just have notches chewed out of them. Some of the leaves have...
view the full question and answer

Does non-native Crown of Thorns cause cancer?
August 24, 2013 - Does the plant, Corona De Cristo (Crown of thorns) cause cancer?
view the full question and answer

Difficulty with Clay Soil from Palm Bay, FL
August 22, 2012 - I had a very nice little native shady area behind my house for over 40 years, but now it has been cleared except for a 100 foot tall live oak in the center of this raised mound (50' x 80'). I've be...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.