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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - August 23, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: What's that sticky stuff on plants under many trees?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Here in Austin, I've recently noticed a sticky film appearing on shrubs, flowers, grass, etc. under many trees. It appears to be coming from the trees under which they are planted. The sticky film seems to be attracting white flies and other pests to these plants. Is there currently some sort of tree insect infestation that is causing this or are the trees stressed due to the recent heat? It doesn't appear to be moisture due to transpiration.

ANSWER:

What you are experiencing is the annual onslaught of honeydew here in Austin. Honeydew is a waste-product of aphids and other sap-sucking insects such as scale. As honeydew is excreted by sucking insects, it falls and coats any surface upon which it lands. Here is a previous answer from last Fall.

This article from University of Minnesota Extension , and another from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture  give a rather thorough explanation of honey dew and aphids and their effects on plants.

You may also notice blackening of the plants under the trees because of an infestation of sooty mold that grows on the honeydew.

 


 
 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Control of live oak suckers by cutting
July 23, 2007 - How do I control the Live Oak root suckers? At the moment we are cutting them as they come out of the ground.
view the full question and answer

Dieback of river fern and maidenhair fern in the Texas summer
August 28, 2015 - My river fern and maiden hair fern are dying back. I know it is hot, but they are in shade and watered regularly. The river fern is dying back from the tips. Any fungus or bugs I should be looking ...
view the full question and answer

Control of Fusarium wilt on Wax Myrtle
March 05, 2011 - Do you have any new reports on how to control the Fusarium Wilt disease to Wax Myrtle Plants?
view the full question and answer

Damaged leaves on bottlebrush buckeye from Glen Mills PA
June 09, 2013 - My recently planted bottlebrush buckeye plants' leaves are looking damaged but it doesn't look like insect or fungus damage. They look battered by wind but I don't understand why that would happen...
view the full question and answer

Problems with sunflowers in Florida
November 03, 2006 - I planted sunflowers on the west side of my house where I have previously planted them and they grew wonderfully. These new ones, however, seem to be dying, (less than 2 weeks). I bought the plants at...
view the full question and answer

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