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
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 Pests Questions

Weird growth on oaks in Middleburg FL
February 05, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; I have this plant/fungus that grows on my trees here in northeast Florida & nobody has been able to identify it for me. It looks like a clump of pine needles growing on the ba...
view the full question and answer

Yellow jackets on non-native crape myrtles
September 25, 2008 - Hey Mr. Smarty Plants I have only 1 question. I have several Crape Myrtles that have numerous amounts (alarming) of yellow jacket bees on them. who what where when why etc? Should I be concerned? tha...
view the full question and answer

Damage to cedar elm from Austin
August 16, 2013 - We have a cedar elm next to the corner of our house that has been dropping lots and lots of twigs with green leaves over the past 3 weeks, while our other elms have not. These rapidly pile up on the p...
view the full question and answer

Hibiscus plants being attacked by powdery mildew, or maybe mealy bugs in Austin, TX.
August 10, 2011 - I have three hibiscus plants planted outside about a foot apart from each other. The one that gets most of the sunlight is the worse off of the three. However, all three of them have white powdery stu...
view the full question and answer

Tulip tree with white spots on leaves in Mississippi
July 31, 2008 - I have a tulip tree in my yard that blooms in the spring that is about 10-15 years old. However just this past week or so we have noticed that there is lots of white spots on the leaves and the branc...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center