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
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

Monday - June 10, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Problems with rock rose in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi Mr Smarty Pants, We have a Texas Rock Rose which is growing next to our gravel path in Austin, with grass growing under it. In the last week, it has stopped blooming suddenly, and all the leaves have turned brown and it looks 3/4 dead. We haven't changed our watering schedule (once/week), it's been there as long as we have (3 years) and although the temperature has increased, it should be hardy enough for that, right? Could you she'd some light on its sudden poor health? With thanks.

ANSWER:

Pavonia lasiopetala (Rock rose) is not listed in our Native Plant Database as "Texas" rock rose, but we are betting it is the same thing. According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, it is native to Tarrant County. If it was already there 3 years ago, it can hardly be suffering from heat and drought, as it has survived worse in the past.

Such a sudden decline has to be the result of some outside event. Our first thought is that a male dog might have lifted its leg on the plant, often the reason for brown spots in grass. However, rock rose gets to be quite a large plant (see pictures below) and we don't believe that would have affected the whole plant.

It sounds much more likely that this is the result of an herbicide being sprayed in the area. The rock rose is a dicot, or broad-leaf plant. Grasses are monocots, or narrow-leaf plants. Herbicides can be obtained to kill either kind of plant, and dicot herbicide is often used to kill broad leaf plants in grass. Unfortunately, there is no way to control where a spray goes, it can be inadvertently sprayed on a bush or it can drift in the wind.

The only other problem we can think of, although it should not be so sudden, is mildew. From our webpage on this plant:

"Maintenance: Cut back the shrub each year to encourage bushy growth. It may tend to become leggy during the growing season, so additional pruning may be necessary. Water intermittently to ensure blooming. Mildew is unavoidable - sometimes more sun seems to make it go away, sometimes not."

Since we can establish no clear problem nor cure, our advice is:

1. Never, EVER spray any pesticide or herbicide again.

2. Keep an eye out for dogs, and if you have any pets of your own, keep them away from your plants.

3. Trim back, as mentioned above, look for signs of mildew (University of Illinois Extension) and treat accordingly. No overhead or sprinkler watering, drip irrigation best.

 

From the Image Gallery


Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

More Shrubs Questions

Foundation Plants for South Carolina
November 07, 2009 - What native plants are suitable as foundation plantings? My soil is heavy clayey loam with red clay subsoil. I live in Charleston County.
view the full question and answer

Low Ground Cover for Steep, Shaded PA Site
February 17, 2014 - I am located in Downingtown, PA, right on the border between Zone 6 and 7. Please provide a recommendation of a native ground cover for the following conditions: steep slope (greater than 45%), full s...
view the full question and answer

Shade Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Evergreen Hedge Suggestions for CT
April 30, 2013 - I think I am asking for a lot, but here we go… Is there a deer tolerant evergreen that can grow in the shade and create a hedge of 5 feet tall here in CT? I am not opposed to ivy covering a fence if t...
view the full question and answer

Failing to thrive of non-native rose bushes in Austin
September 24, 2012 - I live in NW Austin and I have lost one knockout rose bush this summer and it looks like another one is failing. The leaves on a cane turn yellow then brown. I do not see whiteflies or black spots o...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Indian Hawthorn in Richmond TX
February 19, 2010 - I have a lot of Indian Hawthorne plants. I have noticed over the last couple of years that sporadically one will develope a brown area that looks like it was burned or had gasoline poured on it. The...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center