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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Saturday - August 01, 2009

From: Lafayette, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Dying non-native cleyera in Lafayette, LA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Thanks for all the information. One of my six year old cleyera shrubs turned completly brown within two weeks, it is dead. Another is beginning to do the same......do you think it was the recent drought? Thanks

ANSWER:

Ternstroemia gymnathera, Cleyera, is a native of China and Japan, and therefore out of our expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. While we would like to answer all questions we receive, Mr. Smarty Plants' work is restricted to plant species native to North America, their habitats and cultivation. Limited resources require us to decline answering questions that delve into other areas. We hope you understand. However, we did find this previous answer by Mr. Smarty Plants that addressed problems with Cleyera, and could lead you to other information on it.

An excerpt from that answer:

"This University of Florida Cooperative Extension site on Ternstroemina gymnanthera (cleyera) will tell you there are no major pests or diseases of this plant. This site also says that Cleyera requires acidic soil for best performance, dislikes hot, dry, sunny afternoons. It also points out that over-watering can cause root rot and black spot.  Cleyera needs good drainage, and does not tolerate alkaline soil well."

We don't know what kind of soil you have, but if it is clay, the drainage is probably a problem. It could be your shrubs are just the wrong plants in the wrong place. May we suggest some shrubs native to Lafayette Parish in south central Louisiana with which you could replace your dying plants and hopefully have better luck.

We went to our Recommended Species, clicked on Louisiana on the map, selected "shrub" for General Appearance, and clicked on Narrow Your Search at the bottom. We chose these selections as possibilities, but you can use the same tools to find plants suited to the amount of sun you have, the moisture of the soil and so forth. Wait to plant woody plants until late Fall, and remember that even plants that don't need much water will need some watering in the early days of their planting.

Shrubs for Louisiana from our Native Plant Database:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - evergreen, 12 to 25 ft., blooms white April and May, part shade

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - 6 to 12 ft., evergreen, blooms green March and April, sun, part shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera

 

 

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