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

Determine oak wilt in red oaks
December 12, 2007 - I am concerned my red oaks have oak wilt. How can I tell what is wrong with them?
view the full question and answer

Juniper-apple rust galls
April 24, 2010 - I have Red Cedar trees in my yard. I have just noticed something that looks like a reddish brown squid-like bloom about the size of a small orange. Is this normal or is it a fungus?
view the full question and answer

Growing Loblolly Pines Outside Native Range
April 03, 2014 - I would like a stand of pines on my property but do not know if they will grow in my area. Do you know if the soil in Waelder, Texas will support pines?
view the full question and answer

Control of sooty mold from aphids in Crape Myrtle
February 25, 2007 - I have a crape myrtle in my front flower bed that has a sooty black substance on the leaves and trunk. I've done research and understand this is caused by aphids. My question is how do I get the bl...
view the full question and answer

Esperanza freezing back in Highlands, TX
April 16, 2011 - I have an 3 yr. old Esperanza that froze the last two yrs. but grew back each spring. This spring after getting about 2 ft. the leaves at the bottom began turning brown at the edges and now seems to...
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