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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 06, 2011

From: La Mesa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pests, Transplants, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Caterpillars ate my Sophora in La Mesa, CA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Before I noticed what was happening, my newly-planted 1 foot tall Sophora secundiflora was eaten by caterpillars. It now has no foliage. Do you think it will leaf out again?

ANSWER:

Well the culprit is probably the Genista Caterpillar. It is the larval stage of the brown moth Uresiphita reversalis which is much less conspicuous than the caterpillar. One of its favorite foods is the Texas Mountain Laurel.

As to the recovery of your plant, its hard to say. Since it lost all of its leaves, you could look at this as an extreme case of transplant shock. The roots may have enough stored food to keep the plant going, but you need to be patient. Give it only enough water to keep the soil moist, and by all means, do not fertilize the plant. This link has information about bringing plants through transplant shock.

As you nurse your plant back to health, keep in mind that its growth requirements include well drained calcareous soil with a slightly basic pH of 7.2. Try to make it think its back home in Texas.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Shrubs Questions

Need suggestions for a small tree for cemetery in NH.
August 30, 2012 - I would like suggestions for picking a SMALL tree for a rural cemetery in Winchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Would the delicate Japanese Elm be suitable for the weather, etc?
view the full question and answer

Need a perennial plant for a cemetery plot in Lexington, KY.
April 16, 2012 - What type of perennial plants to place on a cemetery plot in Lexington, KY. Receives afternoon sun.
view the full question and answer

Japanese maple in New York
August 15, 2008 - I have a few questions: Do you know what zone Brooklyn, NY. is in? If I plant a Japanese Maple in my backyard, do you think it can tolerate almost full shade (1-2 hours of sun per day)? Also, is it...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Tacoma stans or Yellow Bells
September 05, 2006 - We have seen a plant along the freeway here in Round Rock...beautiful greens leaves and the most amazing yellow flowers. Someone told us it was an esperanza plant and drought tolerate; however, I can...
view the full question and answer

Beautyberry Dying Back
August 06, 2015 - I've got an American Beautyberry which I planted in the spring. It's now about 2-3 feet tall and has 3 trunks (or limbs). It's in an area which gets about 5 hours of direct sun per day and I've be...
view the full question and answer

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