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

Tuesday - May 10, 2011

From: Kyle, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Problems with gaura in Kyle TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Gaura - I seem to have something going on with this plant. I've tried fungicide that also works on mealy bugs and spider mites, etc., but they're looking rather puny? Any suggestions? thanks

ANSWER:

According to our Native Plant Database, there are 12 species of the genus Gaura native to Texas, but only 2, Gaura drummondii (Drummond's beeblossom) and Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer's beeblossom) grow natively in Central Texas. Ordinarily, plants will do better in the area to which they are native, having been adapted by centuries of experience to the soils, climate and rainfall of that area. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that gauras have been widely hybridized and, depending on where you got your plant, may not be native nor well adapted to this area at all. Then, of course, we have to factor in the heat/cold/heat again/severe drought we have been experiencing this year, and it's no wonder that a plant can have problems, although "puny" is a little difficult to diagnose.

So, even though we can't be sure which gaura you are trying to grow in Hays County, nor even what bug may or may not be on it, let's see if we can figure out the problem. We looked at a number of websites and got the following possibilities: downy and powdery mildew, rust or leaf spots (but rarely), root rot in heavy wet soil, aphids, fungus gnats and whiteflies.

Now, it's your turn to be detective. First, we would recommend no more fungicide until you can establish if there is a fungus (and perhaps producing fungus gnats). Just spraying something, anything on an ailing plant will more likely add to its problems than otherwise. Looking at Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer's beeblossom), here are the optimum growing conditions for this plant, see if they are the conditions under which your plant is growing:

"Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Variable. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous.
Conditions Comments: Open vase-shaped plant, branches arching in many directions. Leaf color is dark green in summer, and red, gold or purple in the fall. The flower, white fading pink, has only a few flowers open at a time with new ones opening as stalks grow throughout most. Flowers open in early morning. Tolerant of high heat. Flower fragrance has sometimes been compared to cat urine. Can be invasive."

Okay, next we're going to assign homework. We will give you a list of links to some of the insects and problems that might be causing the problem, with pictures of the bugs and suggestions for treatment.

Mealy bugs (is a kind of aphid)

Spider mites

Rust on plants

Powdery mildew

Aphids

Fungus gnats

Whiteflies

 

From the Image Gallery


Lindheimer's beeblossom
Gaura lindheimeri

Lindheimer's beeblossom
Gaura lindheimeri

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Rust on Blackberry
April 17, 2015 - I have two new blackberry bushes that I planted fall 2014. Only weeks after I planted the plant began to have rust color balls under the leaves then leaves began to die and fall off. When I returned t...
view the full question and answer

Hibiscus wilt in Texas Star hibiscus
November 10, 2005 - I have a Texas star hibiscus on my deck. It flourished all summer, but not quite a month ago, the leaves turned yellow and fell off. Will it come back? What happened???
view the full question and answer

Wisteria with root rot in Flower Mound, TX
July 11, 2009 - I have a wisteria that is showing rot root from an exposed wound on the side of the base. Would like to save the tree. What can I do to fix the problem.
view the full question and answer

Browning leaves on recently planted chinkapin oak in Rockwall TX
June 09, 2010 - I just planted a chinkapin oak that is about 1 1\2 inches thick last week and now some of the leaves are turning brown. Does that mean its dying? Do you have any tips that I could use to protect it?
view the full question and answer

Red-backed bugs on mountain laurel (Sophoro secundiflora)
May 12, 2010 - I found red-backed bugs (in fact two end-to-end like the east Texas love bugs) on my mountain laurel which has been losing leaves. Are these bugs the culprit?
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center