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

Sunday - July 02, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Mystery pest eating portulaca blooms
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I'm from Texas and I purchased some portulaca from a local nursery about three weeks ago and planted them in the front yard....with plenty of sun. Here's the problem. The foliage seems very healthy, nice and green and full. Almost each plants seems to have a few flowers every morning and they open up well, but by the next morning the flowers are completely gone. I don't mean they've closed up; it looks as though all the flowers have been just snipped off. I don't think that they're being eaten by animals and I don't see any evidence of insects eating them. Any suggestions?


Certainly, Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and other Portulaca spp. (e.g., Moss rose, Portulaca grandiflora) are edible and it sounds as if something is eating your Portulaca. Squirrels are a likely suspect, but I wouldn't rule out mice and rats, as well. Desert tortoises and land iguanas are known to eat Portulaca, too, but I think we can be pretty certain that those aren't your culprits. It is reported to be a favorite of deer which could be the culprit in some parts of Austin. However, I suspect the deer would go after all the plant, not just the flowers. I think most likely it is one of the small rodents named above.

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Treating cuts in tree trunks
November 21, 2009 - We have two young trees that deer made bad cuts in the trunks. What can we put on cuts to keep bugs and disease from getting in them.? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Acid rain in Ft. Worth?
August 19, 2010 - ALERT. NEED IMMEDIATE ATTENTION. Why are so many trees, plants, etc. in the Fort Worth area dying?? I heard acid rain. Please don't say drought. I have lived in this area all my life and survived t...
view the full question and answer

Tulip trees losing bark in OH
July 11, 2011 - We have two tulip trees in our yard that are losing their bark at the base of the trunk. I am careful with the mower keeping away from the tree when I mow. What could the problem be and what can I d...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of pecan trees in Las Vegas NV
October 11, 2009 - In April this year I purchased two 8-foot tall pecan trees in 3-foot square boxes from a local nursery and planted them here in Southern Nevada. I'm sure I dug a large enough hole to provide plenty ...
view the full question and answer

Will mowing live oak seedlings contribute to Oak Wilt from Dripping Springs TX
June 14, 2011 - I live near Drippings Springs, TX. Will mowing live oak seedlings contribute to the spread of oak wilt?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center