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 - 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

Ruffly foliage on native lantana
November 05, 2013 - A native lantana in my front yard has developed ruffly foliage on one stem. It looks like miniature broccoli. What can this be?
view the full question and answer

Dying branches on Texas Mountain Laurel from Kempner TX
September 14, 2012 - The branches on my Texas Mountain Laurel are very dry and brittle. The leaves are also starting to die. The tree has been in my yard for six years and prior to that it sat wrapped in burlap for ov...
view the full question and answer

Apparent disease in peach tree in Austin
June 12, 2008 - I have a peach tree that the leaves are "bleeding" out on. The leaves are continuing to get paler and paler. There are no peaches on the tree this year either. What can I do?
view the full question and answer

Leaves turning yellow on Banana Shrub in Eutaw. AL
July 28, 2013 - We have a very large (about 12' tall), very old (probably planted in the early 1900s) Banana Shrub in our front yard. It was very healthy until last year when its leaves began turning yellow and fal...
view the full question and answer

American beautyberry losing leaves in San Antonio
August 03, 2015 - I planted 3 American beautyberry last fall, and 2 of them are doing great. All the leaves on the 3rd one suddenly started dropping about 2 weeks ago and it looks dead. I can't find anything to tell...
view the full question and answer

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