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?

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

Tuesday - June 11, 2013

From: Newburyport, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Bottlebrush buckeye not leafing out from Newburyport MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a bottlebrush buckeye bush that has grown and blossomed for 16 years. This spring the bush failed to produce any leaves and there are no buds in anticipation of leaves. There are a few smaller undergrowth stems that do have leaves. Is there anyway to save this bush? If it needs to be removed, can the smaller stems be saved?

ANSWER:

Here is a very recent Mr. Smarty Plants question on this same plant from Pennsylvania. According to this USDA Plant Profile MapAesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush buckeye) does not grow naturally in Massachusetts at all, much less in Essex County in the far northeastern tip of the state. However, since it has been growing there for years, it has obviously adapted. We have another previous answer on bottlebrush, this is Callistemon ssp. but this link is from the Australian Native Plants Society, and the plant would not be in our Native Plant Database or our area of expertise.

However, whichever one it is, we would advise that you first give it the thumbnail test -starting at the topmost branch, use your thumbnail to scratch off a very thin layer of the outer bark. If there is a thin layer of green under that outer layer, that shrub is alive. If not, keep working your way down the shrub until you find green, which may not be until you get to the lower stems. If that is the case, you can trim off the upper branches, and begin to treat the lower branches as the whole bush. Water carefully, as needed, but DON'T FERTILIZE! Fertilizing already stressed plants to put on new growth just stresses the plant more.

Note that the pictures from our Image Gallery below are of the native Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush buckeye). Here are pictures of the non-native Callistemon.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

More Shrubs Questions

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

Low water hedge for Sedona, AZ
August 19, 2009 - I'm looking for a shrub to plant along a 90' property line with my neighbor in Sedona, Arizona (high desert). Ideally, the shrub would grow to about 8' and would not require too much water. What wo...
view the full question and answer

Problem with American Beautyberry in Houston.
July 02, 2014 - My American Beautyberry is dying one branch at a time. The entire plant looks great, now flowering and starting to put out berries. Then one or two branches will completely die. Trim those off, wi...
view the full question and answer

Growing Dwarf Yaupon Holly in Texas
December 04, 2013 - We planted 10 extra dwarf yaupons in our Austin front yard. They were identified as 'Gremici' dwarf yaupon. I googled them to get more information about them in order to determine why five have di...
view the full question and answer

Need plants for a hedge in Iredell, Tx
August 28, 2009 - I have six Penelope roses that I planted for a hedge about 14 years ago. I need to replace them. Will you please recommend heat tolerant plants that grow between 3-5 feet tall, preferable blooming, ...
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