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

Care of non-native Oleander
June 11, 2008 - I want my oleanders to bloom but they keep getting attacked by tiny orange aphids that clump up on the newest growth. I read that oleanders only bloom on old growth but those orange mites/aphids are ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for indoor container gardening from Lax Vegas NV
May 10, 2013 - What is an good flower to grow in a pot? I live in a apt., and like roses,tulips etc. if that helps any.
view the full question and answer

Non-native arica palm
October 21, 2008 - I have been watering an arica palm in my house in Va. Beach, VA. The leaves continue to get brown, dry up and die. I'm not sure if it has a disease or something else. Can you help?
view the full question and answer

Repotting non-native Agave ghiesbreghtii from Spring TX
June 03, 2012 - I've recently purchased an Agave ghiesbreghtii, and will need to re-pot it soon. I have some cactus soil mix as well as a few rocks to put in the bottom of its new pot. There seem to be roots comi...
view the full question and answer

Will drought-stricken non-native St. Augustine come back in Cedar Park TX
January 30, 2010 - I recently bought a new house but the grass in the yard looked completely dead (bought house in Nov) even though the neighbor's grass was still green. The previous owner stopped watering the grass (e...
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