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

Non-native weeping willow losing leaves
June 03, 2008 - We have a willow tree (weeping), which sprung up naturally about 12 years ago. It has done very well until this summer. After its bloom in late March, it is losing its leaves again..turning yellow and...
view the full question and answer

Italy in Texas
July 02, 2008 - Just want to clear up that I'm not in Italy, VERMONT. I'm in Italy, TEXAS. I don't know how the state slot changed from TX to Vermont, but please, I'm like you, lets just stick to TEXAS !
view the full question and answer

Non-native blue potato bush in El Dorado Hills CA
June 12, 2010 - I have two blue potato bush topiary planted in my front porch in a very big planter. It's getting a full afternoon sun. I am wondering why they are losing their leaves??? Am I overwatering them??? Al...
view the full question and answer

Why is my Weeping Fig crying leaves?
July 27, 2009 - I have a weeping fig that I bought Memorial day in Birmingham, Al. It has 8 or 9 trunks growing altogether. It sits on a porch with eastern exposure, only about 2 hours of sun. It has been losing l...
view the full question and answer

Why are our Euphorbia myrsinites plants dying in Soquel, CA?
August 02, 2010 - Some of our Euphorbia myrsinites die in our garden for reasons we cannot understand. Do you have any explanation or suggest area we should be looking for?
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