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

Shrubs for a barrier in Ft. Worth TX
February 22, 2014 - Hello, I'm looking for a natural barrier as an alternative to a fence in my backyard. I see several other questions answered relating to this but I'm looking for something specifically as a nativ...
view the full question and answer

Fence Shrub for Sugarland, TX
June 08, 2015 - Hello I live in Sugar Land TX, I am looking for a fast growing shrub to plant along my six foot wood fence for a privacy screen. There is not a lot of room for them to grow in width but there is pl...
view the full question and answer

Shady Container Plant for Austin
August 20, 2014 - I am looking for a tall plant/small shrub/ornamental grass for a very large pot that is placed against the north wall of our Austin home. That spot gets some morning sun in the summer, but virtually ...
view the full question and answer

Repotting of lemon cypress for drainage
October 26, 2008 - Hi, I bought a lemon cypress tree in a nice tin, It is in Plastic and the bottom has about 1.5" of water with no drainage in the plastic or tin. It will be kept inside. Does the plant need to be in...
view the full question and answer

Will Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub) grow near black walnut trees?
April 01, 2012 - Will Calycanthus floridus survive if planted near Black Walnut trees? If not, can you recommend a similar bush that will?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center