En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - August 16, 2009

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Wilting stems on beautyberry in Georgetown, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last summer I discovered that a 4-year old beautyberry had one (of many) stems that died. Leaves on this single stem wilted and dried up. This year the same happened to two or three stems. The rest of the plant is fine, as are two other plants of the same age. Now a new (planted last November) beautyberry has two wilted stems (out of three total). Any idea what's going on? Plants are in mostly shade, light sun and get supplemental water. No evidence of insect infestation. Just sudden stem wilt!

ANSWER:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) - a deciduous shrub, blooms white, pink May to July, berries in winter are important to birds, has low water use and requires part shade. It is native to Texas, but not to Williamson County, rather preferring moist woods, coastal plains and bottomlands.

According to this information in our Native Plant Database:

"The shrub may temporarily defoliate and lose developing fruit during periods of prolonged summer drought."

And what have we had, last year and this year but prolonged summer drought? There is also the possibility of some root damage, perhaps when the plant was placed in the ground. Or, it might have been rootbound when it was purchased, and no root trimming was done to permit the roots to get out of their round-and-round conformation caused by the pot restricting their growth.  At this point, there is not a whole lot that can be done about either cause. For damage control, we would recommend deep watering by forcing a hose into the soil around the base of the shrub and allowing it to dribble very slowly for an hour or so, once a week. If water pools on the surface when you do this, that probably indicates clay in the soil, which makes it difficult for a plant's little rootlets to access nutrients in the soil. You can begin to amend the soil by working some compost into the ground around the shrubs, and mulching with a shredded bark mulch. The mulch will protect the roots from heat, hold in moisture and, as it decomposes, add more organic material to the soil, assisting with drainage. 

Beyond that, trim out the dead or dying stalks, so the roots won't still be trying to get moisture to a lost cause. Don't fertilizer, no plant under stress should be fertilized. And hope for rain. 

Pictures from our Native Plant Image Gallery


Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

 

 

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

Insect pests in Gaillardia aristata in Tennessee
August 22, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a couple of 'Oranges and Lemons' blanketflower plants in a butterfly and hummingbird native flower garden that is the foundation planting of my house. They bloom prol...
view the full question and answer

Sooty Mold on Beauty Berry
May 19, 2009 - We recently planted a beauty berry plant (among others) to attract birds in our backyard. We have had a lot of rain (probably 5-7 inches) since planting a few weeks ago if that might have something to...
view the full question and answer

Death of mature Eve's necklace in Fredericksburg, TX
July 12, 2010 - A friend mentioned his mature Eve's necklace had died this year. The next day I walked past my own mature Eve's necklace(about 5 years old)and it was dead! What could have happened? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Chlorotic disease in scrub oak from Katy TX
July 04, 2013 - Please tell me how to treat my scrub oak as it has chlorotic disease. Parts of the tree are fine and others have yellow leaves. It has not been injured in any way.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center