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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Wednesday - October 20, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Foam on Salvia greggii in Austin
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

I have 7 Salvia greggii plants. I am seeing a white foam like substance on tip of all of them (where flowers use to be). Any suggestions on what is happening to the plants?

ANSWER:

Sounds like spitllebugs. A spittlebug is an insect that produces a white froth on plants that resembles spittle. Don't worry though, that foam is not actually spit. It comes from the other end of the bug.

The foam serves to hide the bug from predators (including gardeners), protect them from extreme temperatures and prevent them from drying out.

Although they do suck the sap from a plant, most experts agree spittlebugs do not do enough harm to warrant extreme control measures. If you want to get rid of them, a blast of water from the hose usually will do the trick.

Here's a web site with more details: Spittlebugs

 

 

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Bibliography

Texas bug book: the good, the bad, and the ugly (2005) Howard Garrett and C. Malcolm Beck

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