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

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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Plants for a pool fence in Ohio
October 28, 2010 - I live in Ohio and have a pool with a white vinyl fence. Each year I plant sunflowers around it, but they are so messy when the birds/bees find them. Previously I planted castor beans, however, they...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of invasive Florida betony from Myrtle Beach SC
April 28, 2012 - How can I get rid of Florida Betony from my lawn and flower beds/ garden area. Garden area was thoroughly dug up and hand picked of all tubules last year at least a foot deep. They are much worse now....
view the full question and answer

Need native plants to place in chicken coop in Charolette, NC
September 20, 2014 - Hi, I live near Charlotte, NC. I'm looking for native plants that I can plant in my chicken coop that will produce food for the chickens. If they also produced some delicious food for me, I wouldn't...
view the full question and answer

Natives for wet soil in Cincinnati OH
March 21, 2014 - I live in Cincinnati and the soil in my back yard is wet (soggy) all year round. There are moss and grass growing in the yard. The area is shaded in the afternoon but receives sun earlier in the day. ...
view the full question and answer

Worms on blackeyed susans and daisies in Tuckerton NJ
July 30, 2009 - I have black eyed susans and white daisies planted together. Not sure if this makes a difference. Today I noticed that there are tiny worms on both the plants they are almost the size of silk worms. ...
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