Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Friday - June 24, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Squirrels eating seed pods of Rock Rose in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Squirrel(s) have been ripping the branches off my rock rose bushes in order to eat the seed pods. Previously we had problems with squirrel(s) gnawing on our garden ornaments. I sprayed the ornaments w/ tabasco sauce and water and that stopped them. Will it harm the rock roses if I spray them w/ tabasco sauce and water? Or is there a better way to deter them?

ANSWER:

We don't really have any idea if tabasco sauce would hurt the roses, but we have another idea. Try deadheading the flowers off your bushes as soon as the bloom begins to droop and create the seed pods. You won't get any seeds, of course, but you probably are not getting any now. The squirrels, like the other wildlife that we share Central Texas  with, are suffering from the heat and drought and looking for sustenance wherever they can find it. If you are interested in propagating the rock rose, you can't gather seeds until they turn brown, by which time the squirrels (and the seeds) will be long gone. However, Pavonia lasiopetala (Rock rose) can also be propagated by taking stem cuttings. Here are propagation instructions for that method:

"Pavonia can also be propagated from softwood tip cuttings. Take cuttings in spring before plant starts to bloom, or on nursery plants kept cut back. Cuttings with big buds or blooms are at a disadvantage. They root and grow fast in hot weather. Cut a stem three to six inches long, just below the node. Remove all but the top leaves and place in vermiculite."

Since the Rock Rose is not a "true" rose, but a member of the Malvaceae (mallow) family, it is only woody at the base. The softer branches above are no match for the squirrels, but if the seed pods are never allowed to develop, maybe the animals will give up and go away. Or, maybe it will rain, and the normal diet of the squirrels will return, whatever it is. We thought they just ate acorns and nuts, but apparently they have adjusted to our difficult conditions.

 

From the Image Gallery


Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

More Shrubs Questions

Will cochineal insects washed from cactus plants harm adjacent Oleander?
June 11, 2015 - Will mealybugs (cochineal insects) power washed off prickly pear cactus harm adjacent oleander plants if the white fluff gets on the oleander? My neighbor asked me to power wash my prickly pears and t...
view the full question and answer

Fall shrub planting in Illinois
November 22, 2009 - I was given a Holly winterberry - Ilex Verticillata and it is now November. Should I plant it in a pot in the house for the winter or should I plant it outside now? Please give me some planting nstr...
view the full question and answer

Puppy-friendly privacy screen in Montana
November 02, 2012 - I need some puppy-friendly short(< 30') privacy from the gigantic windows of my next door neighbor. But- there are power lines above the area that I needed to plant! I had planned on an aspen grove, ...
view the full question and answer

Foundation Plants for South Carolina
November 07, 2009 - What native plants are suitable as foundation plantings? My soil is heavy clayey loam with red clay subsoil. I live in Charleston County.
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing tree for privacy in Berkeley, CA
July 30, 2013 - Help. I need fast growing tree for backyard privacy. Where in Berkeley is there a tree nursery to Buy Pittosporum trees? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.