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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - August 19, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Aphids in non-native crape myrtles in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is the least toxic way of getting rid of aphids? They are on a crapemyrtle and I do not think it will hold up to really forceful water spray. Due to the drought in Central Texas, our St. Augustine grass is dying. Is the grass dying from lack of water different from the way grass dies in the winter? Someone told me that it is different because in the winter the grass becomes dormant instead of really dying.

ANSWER:

While Lagerstroemia indica (crape myrtle) is not native to North America and therefore out of our range of expertise, aphids do not discriminate. The aphids are a nuisance, and you don't want to park a car or even stand very long under a crape myrtle infested with them, but they really don't do any damage to the tree. You're right, a hard spray of water would probably knock off more blossoms than aphids. Depending on how much it is bothering you and how big the tree is, you could try spraying it with a weak solution of Safer insecticide, or even soapy water. 

Stenotaphrum secundatum (St. Augustine grass) is also non-native to North America and although widely used, is not really suitable for Austin, especially in a time of extreme heat and drought. It needs water and shade. It is fairly drought-tolerant when it has become well-established. If your watering is restricted and you get some brown areas in the lawn, they will still probably come back when (and if) we get some rain. Even if the grass in a particular area does not green up next Spring, the stolons around it will spread back into the area. 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Crows foot plant for Christmas wreaths from Millsboro DE
November 04, 2012 - I am looking for a plant called crows foot to make wreaths for Christmas. Where do I find this plant.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of bamboo-like plant in California
January 10, 2014 - We just bought a house in Cambria, CA. The plant I'd like to ID grows like bamboo -- spreading fibrous stalks abt 6' high with beautiful orange blossoms that protrude out the top of the stalk. The...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native peach trees in Austin
November 14, 2008 - I have 2 peach trees that are 2 years old. Last year I pruned them in February and do not want to prune them again this year. I want to cut the little sucker limbs off of them this year. When can I do...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native St. Augustine lawn from Austin
October 06, 2013 - We have St. Augustine in our front lawn. There are some patches where the grass has entirely died but mixed in with the dead areas are little clumps of living grass. It seems to be spreading througho...
view the full question and answer

Invasiveness of non-native gooseneck yellow loosetrife in Maine
May 12, 2005 - I live in Maine, and purple loosestrife is invading our habitat. It outcompetes native species. Does gooseneck loosestrife have the same damaging qualities?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center