En Español

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

Saturday - April 30, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Holes in leaves of wax myrtle from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just purchased 4 of the 5 gallon Wax Myrtles at the last spring plant sale and after planting them, they are getting eaten by bugs leaving holes in the leaves. I can't find any of the bugs doing the damage. What would be good to spray on these wax myrtles for insect control? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Water. And if that doesn't work, add a little pure liquid soap to the water, and spray again.

Okay, now we've had our fun, we'll get serious. We are neither entomologists nor plant pathologists, but our experience as gardeners tells us this is probably aphid damage. Look on the underside of the wax myrtle's leaves-do you see tiny white specks moving around? Are there ants present? Is there a whitish deposit on those undersides, some of which may be developing a black moldy appearance?

Sooty mold is a fungus, or more commonly a complex of two or more fungal species, that grows on honeydew or on plant exudates. Honeydew is a waste-product of aphids and other plant-sucking insects. As honeydew is excreted by sucking insects, it falls and coats any surface upon which it lands. Sooty mold fungi invade and live upon this sugary coating. These fungi do not infest the leaf ifself. Thus, sooty mold may often be found growing on any exposed surface beneath aphid-infested trees and shrubs. Sooty mold can cause great harm to plants, however, by blocking sunlight to the leaf surface below and diminishing photosynthesis.

Sooty mold can often be successfully removed by rinsing with water from a garden hose. However, this will be most effective after the aphids or other honeydew-producing insects are destroyed. Sometimes sooty mold development is so severe and persistent that only time and exchange of leaves through the growing seasons will remove it all.

Aphids are not especially difficult to control and non-chemical methods are usually very effective. Insecticidal soaps are often the remedy of choice for many gardeners. Various brands of insecticidal soaps may be found at just about any retail nursery or garden center. Be sure to read and carefully follow all label directions when using any pesticide, organic or chemical.

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Blue Mist Ageratum Shrub?
June 16, 2015 - Is there a shrub version of Blue Mistflower Ageratum? I believe we saw some at the Butterfly Center in MacAllen. Would it survive in Georgetown, TX?
view the full question and answer

Puppy-proof plants in Denton TX
June 04, 2010 - I recently got a couple of puppies that stay outside in a fenced off area of the backyard. Of course, they love trying to dig under the fence and get out. I placed cement landscaping border stones alo...
view the full question and answer

Texas native plants for cemetery site
February 09, 2005 - I am trying to landscape my mothers gravesite located in far East Texas (just outside of Nacogdoches) and I am looking for some evergreen bushes or any other decorative plants for that area. I am thi...
view the full question and answer

Problems with shrubs by pool in Bethesda, MD
February 24, 2012 - We are trying to grow Otto Luyken Laurels by a pool and doing okay, some brown spots on leaves, but not many. Also have Arbivatea beside the pool about 3 feet from the edge of the pool. They have a l...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for Austin TX
February 28, 2015 - I am wanting an evergreen shrub 6-8 ft tall to use as a screen in our backyard. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center