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
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


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


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

Synchronized blooming of cutleaf evening primrose from Brookshire TX
April 29, 2014 - I have cutleaf evening primrose (grandis) that puts on such an enchanting show, opening every evening in late April, precisely at 8:00 , that guests sit in chairs to watch the spectacle. Incredibly, ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for area around pool in Plano, Texas
October 13, 2009 - I just built an in ground pool in Plano, Texas and now want to landscape around it on my own. I am curious what plants/shrubs you recommend. There will be plants/shrubs on three sides of the pool. ...
view the full question and answer

Lookink for bulbs of German Blue Bells in Weatherford, TX.
July 09, 2012 - I am searching for a plant that is called "German Blue Bells". They are tubular as seed. Like tiny iris only bands around the tubular. The flower looks like a morning glory with an off set bloom....
view the full question and answer

Soil Loosener/Pollinator Plants for Houston
August 11, 2014 - I am trying to establish a mostly-native pollinator way-station in a recently purchased lot in a 100 year old neighborhood in Houston. Much of the property has a thick layer of oyster shell four to si...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for Waynesville MO
April 09, 2013 - We moved to Waynesville, MO (gardening region 6) and when we bought our house there was a nice looking gardening area in front of the house. It is shaded moderately by a Redwood Tree and was "occupie...
view the full question and answer

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