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

Monday - August 24, 2009

From: Katy , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Declining wax myrtles in Katy, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My wax myrtle bushes were thick and green except for a few on the NE side 6 months ago when we bought the house. Now they are thin, leggy, and dropping leaves like crazy. They seem to be dying one branch at at time. No one could see into our yard. Now you can see everything! Please help.

ANSWER:

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is native not only to Texas, but to the area around Katy. We have had other inquiries about their wax myrtles looking bad, and we are not sure why. We sound like a broken record, but there has been so much heat and so little rain (even in your part of the state) that everything is suffering. Strictly speaking, the wax myrtle is considered a plant for lowlands or marshy areas. and will tolerate poor drainage once it is established, but does not tolerate extreme drought.  No well-established native plant being treated the same way in the same location should decline like that without a change in the environment. Possibly the previous owners were watering the plant more. About all we can suggest at this point is to get some water down to the roots. The best way to do this, if a little low-tech, is to stick a hose down in the dirt and let the water dribble very slowly until water appears on the surface, then move on to the next bush. Do this about once a week, and see if they start to improve. Don't fertilize, never fertilize a plant under stress. If the cool weather and even rains finally come back, you might consider doing some pruning, taking off some of the top branches as well as pruning out the dead ones, to take some of the strain off the water-carrying mechanism of the plant.

We did some research to see if there were any diseases that could be infesting your plants, and the only indication we found was that sometimes canker diseases could kill the plant. We found this website from the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Canker disease on ornamental woody plants. There are a couple illustrations and it is noted that the canker is an opportunistic disease, and will attack plants stressed by drought. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery


Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Young oak damaged by falling tree from San Diego TX
June 27, 2012 - My neighbor's Palo Blanco tree was struck by lightning and fell over our fence and on to a young oak tree in our yard. We waited a few days to see if the neighbor would offer help, but he never did,...
view the full question and answer

Theory for live oak shoots from Austin
August 25, 2011 - More on preventing suckers from coming up around live oaks in Austin. I too have been puzzled - why some live oaks have shoots, and not others. Posting here says different varieties have suckers. ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Strawberry Hedgehog cactus from Temple TX
June 03, 2012 - I had purchased a Strawberry hedgehog Cactus (echinocereus stramineus) a few years ago from the Wildflower Center's annual plant sale and planted it then. It has now started to brown from bottom to t...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of trees in Savage MN
August 23, 2009 - I have a 20+ year old weeping willow. The last few years it is the last tree to get its leaves and the first to lose them. The few leaves that are still on the tree are covered with brown/black spots....
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming Tecoma stans in Fredericksburg, TX
June 30, 2008 - We have an esperanza plant purchased last year from Walmart and planted outside before winter. It flowered excellently last year. Just before winter we cut it back to about a foot. So far this summer ...
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