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

Non-native Sandankwa viburnum (Viburnum suspensum) damaged by freeze
April 16, 2006 - We live in Georgetown. My Sandankwa Viburnum seem to have been affected by the late freeze. There are now very few leaves and no flowers/buds. Should I cut the plants back, leave them alone, or giv...
view the full question and answer

Could ammonia harm poisonous, non-native oleander in Bay Point CA
December 20, 2009 - Could ammonia harm my Oleander plant? I have been spraying ammonia under it to keep neighborhood cats from using the soil under the plant as a sand box. If so, do you have any suggestions as to what...
view the full question and answer

Slow growing, non-native Viburnum sandanqua in Deland FL
April 05, 2010 - Hi. I live in central FL, and planted sandankwa viburnum as a hedge 3 years ago. I was told they would grow quickly, but they are growing very slowly, although they look healthy with deep green leaves...
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

Damage to Yucca rostrata from Nottingham, England
February 26, 2014 - Hi, I have a yucca rostrata which has had its head snapped off in high winds (we live in Nottingham, England) we have left the trunk in the ground, will this re grow?? What is the best thing to do wit...
view the full question and answer

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