En Español

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 - July 17, 2009

From: Sun City Center, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Native firebush dying in Sun City Center FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a native firebush, it is suddenly dying branch by branch, from the inside out, I have noticed odd things look like wasps but with speckled wings on it. What could be killing it. The inside branches that are being attacked look wilted for a few days, then they start to die, please help.

ANSWER:

Hamelia patens (scarletbush) is a native of Central and South Florida, so you're right on the spot there. The resources we looked at all said it had "no significant pests or diseases" but that doesn't help you much, does it? We did some research on some flying insects that were a possibility. We found websites on each of the insect pests that might like the firebush, and we suggest you look at the pictures, compare them with the insects you have seen flying and check suggested treatments.

Colorado State Extension website on spider mites

University of California Integrated Pest Management thrips

University of California Integrated Pest Management whiteflies

University of California Integrated Pest Management aphids

In all honesty, we have no idea if any or some of these might be the problem. You didn't say how old the firebush is, and we're wondering if some change in the environment might have caused this loss of leaves and branches. Not being entomologists, and unable to make any diagnosis from a distance, we would like to refer you to the University of Florida Extension Home Gardening Section for Hillsborough County Florida. If there is some pest invading your garden, it is invading other gardens, too, and the Extension office should be the place that knows about that. There is contact information on the website, and they may have a ready answer for you. 

Pictures of Hamelia patens (scarletbush)

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Native Annual Plant Substitute for Impatiens
May 11, 2013 - What can be used as an annual flowering plant to substitute for the diseased impatiens? Is Vinca one you would suggest?
view the full question and answer

Insect infestation of plants, dog and home
September 14, 2008 - I have plants that some kind of bug is killing them, my fan plam, ficus tree and other plants. The leaves are drying up and falling off. Apparently, they also are infestion my apartment. I feel them c...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bud out of Shumard oaks in Floresville TX
April 16, 2010 - Question: I have a Shumard red oak (9-10ft tall) that I planted last October as its leaves were turning a brilliant red color. However, it's the only tree that did not bud this spring. I scraped t...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native zucchini in Muskogee, OK
July 23, 2011 - In the awful heat of this summer I am still getting zucchini to produce. But, once it grows about 3 inches, it gets yellow on the ends and dies. Am I watering it too much? (I have sprayed for bugs ...
view the full question and answer

Foam on Salvia greggii in Austin
October 20, 2010 - I have 7 Salvia greggii plants. I am seeing a white foam like substance on tip of all of them (where flowers use to be). Any suggestions on what is happening to the plants?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center