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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Wednesday - August 01, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pests, Trees
Title: Sticky stuff dripping from non-native crape myrtle in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

There is sticky sap-like stuff dropping from the very large crepe myrtle in my yard. The tree has quit blooming. This didn't happen last year when it was so dry; it started after we had all the rain in July. I assume it's a fungus or aphid related somehow to the rain. My question is: should I be worried about the tree? Is there something I should be doing to treat it?

ANSWER:

This is a very common complaint this time of year, especially in Austin, and crape myrtles seem to be absolute magnets for aphids. Lagerstroemia indica (crape myrtle) is native to China and therefore not in Mr. Smarty Plants' realm of expertise nor our Native Plant Database. Here is a previous answer on this subject. Avoid herbicides, as they will kill beneficial insects that help control the aphids, but not disturb the aphid eggs that will soon hatch into more aphids. A spray of soapy water will help to wash off aphids and eggs.

 

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