Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - November 30, 2009

From: Corpus Christi, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Esperanza with rust spots in Corpus Christi, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a young esperanza plant and the leaves have what looks like rust spots all over them. What is the cause of this and what can I do for it? My other larger and older esperanza does not have this.

ANSWER:

Without being able to actually see your plant, about all we can do is give you some questions to ask yourself about the location, soil and age of your Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush). 

We always begin by looking for pests and diseases that might commonly cause a problem and found, as so often happens, that just about every resource we looked at said this plant was resistant to pests and diseases, had none or was seldom bothered. A nice way of saying they didn't know, either. This University of Florida IFAS Extension website gives more complete information on the culture of the plant. There is always the possibility of whiteflies, aphids or scale defacing the leaves, but none of them are major concerns. And check the sun exposure: this plant requires full sun (6 hours or more of sun daily) or part shade (2 to 6 hours daily). 

We know we sound like a broken record, but the weather the last two years has been very unforgiving, heat and drought taking its toll on even hardy desert plants, which Esperanza is. You say your older plant is not showing these signs, which makes us wonder when you planted the newer one. If it was planted during the heat and drought we were still having up until mid-October, it could very well be suffering from transplant shock. In fact, research shows that plants can suffer transplant shock for up to 5 years after the original planting. Even a desert plant will need supplemental watering when there has not been sufficient rainfall, and the Esperanza particularly needs good drainage; that is to say, no water standing on the roots after it finally gets some rain, or even from a sprinkler system. 

Your plant is about to go into dormancy anyway. In Corpus Christi, it probably won't get cold enough to cause the plant to die back to the ground, but a good trimming back in early Spring will not only initiate more vigorous growth and blooming, but is also the treatment we usually recommend for transplant shock. Be sure and check the drainage; working some compost into the dirt around the roots and mulching the roots to add more heat and cold protection will also help.


Tecoma stans

Tecoma stans

Tecoma stans

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Native grass for caliche soil in Austin
February 06, 2010 - I am interested in using native grasses in part of my lawn per the recent article on these from the Wildflower Center. The problem is I live W. of Austin where there is very little top soil and calic...
view the full question and answer

Using seaweed in compost
October 05, 2015 - What do you think about using seaweed in compost? I live on the Gulf Coast
view the full question and answer

Using cedar chips as mulch in Wimberley, TX
August 19, 2010 - In TX Hlll Country there is an abundance of wood chips, usually "cedar", which I have used as plant mulch. Since wood chips extract nitrogen to decay, do you consider chips a poor choice as plant m...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Esperanza in Houston
July 07, 2009 - Esperanza plant. I have 3 of these plant in my flower bed for the last 10 years. They get west sun. Over the last three years they have bloomed initially but then the new growth is deformed. The best...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for Pflugerville, TX in blackland soil
March 21, 2008 - Mr. S-P, I'm perusing the plant sale list for a couple of tall shrubs to plant on the sunny southwest side of my house, in Blackland soil. It is generally dry there because of the sun, but can ge...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.