En Español

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

Wednesday - June 06, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Something eating holes in Texas Betony from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What pest is eating holes in the leaves of my Texas Betonys? They look healthy but almost all leaves have various sizes of round holes in them. What is the best cure for this? Thanks

ANSWER:

Stachys coccinea (Scarlet betony) - also Texas Betony, is one of those plants that most references regard as "pest free," or "few problems." Obviously, that is not the case with your plant. We did a little further searching with other members of the Stachys genus and discovered that some of them have problems with slugs, snails and whiteflies. For instance, here is a website on Stachys lanata (Woolly Betony) which is not native to North America but widely grown here. We doubt the pests check plants' passports before they start chewing.

If you scroll down that webpage, you will find a section on Problems - Pests: Slugs and Snails. Another reference mentioned whiteflies. Here is what the website on Wooly Betony had to say about the slugs and snails:

"Slugs and snails favor moist climates and are mollusks, not insects. They can be voracious feeders, eating just about anything that is not woody or highly scented. They may eat holes in leaves, strip entire stems, or completely devour seedlings and tender transplants, leaving behind tell-tale silvery, slimy trails.

Prevention and control: Keep your garden as clean as possible, eliminating hiding places such as leaf debris, over-turned pots, and tarps. Groundcover in shady places and heavy mulches provide protection from the elements and can be favorite hiding places. In the spring, patrol for and destroy eggs (clusters of small translucent spheres) and adults during dusk and dawn. Set out beer traps from late spring through fall."

From University of California Integrated Pest Management: Snails and Slugs.

From the same source: Whiteflies

These both seem to involve a moist environment, so be sure you are not overwatering your Texas Betony and providing a welcoming environment for the pests. According to our webpage on Stachys coccinea (Scarlet betony), the plant likes moist soil and part shade, both good environment for the pests we are discussing.

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarlet betony
Stachys coccinea

Scarlet betony
Stachys coccinea

Scarlet betony
Stachys coccinea

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Why will my blazing stars not bloom in Syracuse New York?
July 02, 2009 - I have two purple blazing star plants on the west side of my house, about 4 feet apart. They have bloomed the past two summers. This year, one is ready to bloom, but the other has no stalks that wil...
view the full question and answer

Companion planting with heartleaf skullcap from Arlington TX
April 24, 2011 - What can I plant with heart-leaf skullcap when it goes dormant in the summer?
view the full question and answer

Difficulties in growing iris in Central Texas
October 06, 2007 - I live in Round Rock TX. I would like to plant Irises and have failed before. What type of irises grow best here? When should I plant them and should I add something to the soil to help them grow? ...
view the full question and answer

Arisaema triphyllum and Phlox stolonifera native to Pennsylvania
April 03, 2008 - I asked and you answered my question about PA wildflowers. I have two more questions: is jack-in-the-pulpit a native PA wildflower? and is creeping white phlox a native PA wildflower?
view the full question and answer

Skunk cabbage from Amsterdam NY
May 02, 2012 - Will skunk cabbage grow under a mobile home and cause odor?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center