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 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

Brown dead spots on arborvitae in Hillsboro OR
October 12, 2009 - Hello. I live in Hillsboro, OR and have several mature arborvitae as a privacy screen in my backyard. They are on our side of a black chainlink fence separating our yard from a drainage area maintaine...
view the full question and answer

Swarming insects on non-native willow in Washington PA
September 25, 2011 - I have had a very large, beautiful pillow willow bush/tree growing next to our garage for about 8 years. Last year at the end of August, it began to attract white-faced hornets and yellow jackets by t...
view the full question and answer

Replacement Yaupon holly doing poorly in Pflugerville, TX
May 09, 2012 - I had to replace quite a few shrubs after the drought last year. I live in Austin, TX. I have planted 3 dwarf yaupon holly bushes in the exact same place where the previous three same type of shrubs...
view the full question and answer

Recovery of damaged fuchsia plant in hanging basket
July 23, 2007 - I had a beautiful fuchsia plant hanging on my porch. The hanger gave way and the plant fell straight down into another flower bed. The fuchsia seemed ok. I put it back in the pot put up new strong ...
view the full question and answer

Firecracker plants not growing in Ft. Worth
June 09, 2010 - I live in Fort Worth, TX and last fall planted several firecracker plants. It's now June and they're not growing. How can I tell if they are still alive?
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