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?


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

Wednesday - July 20, 2011

From: Silsbee, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Transplants
Title: Sooty mold on Texas Sage in Silsbee, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I just saw two questions from December regarding black sooty mold appearing on leaves of Texas Sage. My Texas Sage is two years old growing in the original, well-draining large pot it was planted in last year. It survived winter well and bloomed in early spring this year. Since then, no blooms and new growth is slowly developing. Most older leaves have a black sooty mold on then. This plant sits in the same location where it thrived last year. The Sedum and Platycodon in the same pot are healthy and growing well. Nothing has changed about the care for this Texas Sage. I have applied one dose of Miracle Grow to this pot and all other potted plants. Only the Texas Sage is ill. Any ideas?


I'm glad to see that people utilize our Mr. Smarty Plants  questions database.

I found two previous questions, 4768 and 6477 that deal with Texas Sage and sooty mold. A recurring theme in both of them was that common names  can be tricky, and that aphid infestation can lead to sooty mold. Since the sooty mold question is less complicated, lets tackle it first.
Here are three sources of information about this problem. The University of California at Davis Integrated Pest Management Program has two good articles; one on sooty mold, and one on aphids. This article from the USDA tells how to recognize and control sooty mold.

Because your Texas Sage is growing in a pot with other plants, I tend to think that it might be Salvia texana (Texas sage) rather than Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo). According to its NPIN page Salvia texana blooms from March through May (so yours bloomed when it was supposed to), and is found naturally in dry limestone alkaline soils.There are 19 species of Sedum in our Native Plant Database, and most also prefer drier environments. The Platycodon, possibly P.grandiflorus  is a non-native that prefers well drained moist soil. You didn’t mention whether the Sedum or Platycodon had bloomed this year. Perhaps you are trying to grow three plants together whose growth requirements are incompatible.

You did mention that the Texas Sage was potted last year which brings up the possibility of transplant shock. (When were the other two plants potted?) These websites from gardeningknowhow.com and northscaping.com have information about transplant shock and how to deal with it. So your Texas Sage is dealing with the stress of being transplanted as well as having to compete with the other plants for space and resources. As general rule, stressed plants shouldn't be fertilized. Maybe it needs a pot of its own.

And don’t forget about the aphids.


From the Image Gallery

Texas sage
Salvia texana

Texas sage
Salvia texana

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with Carolina Laurel Cherry from Pflugerville, TX
September 02, 2011 - In 2007 we planted 7 Carolina Laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana)across our back fence. Everything was fine until this year. Three of the trees seemed to get sick and a local arborist said the roots ne...
view the full question and answer

Yellow bands around edges of leaves in Whitney TX
July 20, 2009 - How can you tell whether esperanzas are getting too much water or not enough - ours have a small yellow band around the edges of the leaves - crape myrtles - same question
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
May 01, 2014 - My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
view the full question and answer

Esperanza with rust spots in Corpus Christi, TX
November 30, 2009 - I have a young esperanza plant and the leaves have what looks like rust spots all over them. What is the cause of this and what can I do for it? My other larger and older esperanza does not have this....
view the full question and answer

Problems with giant coneflower in Richardson TX
June 05, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants- I have had a giant coneflower in my garden for 2 years now. This year it came up like it always had..got lots of leaves and then withered..turned brown and died. It got plent...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center