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

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!

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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Grasshopper-resistant landscape plants?
May 20, 2009 - We have a ton of grasshoppers in our area. I would like to plant bushes and flowers that the grasshoppers will not eat. Can you suggest any??
view the full question and answer

When is it time to remove diseased oak trees in Belton, TX?
May 03, 2013 - When to give up on my live oaks. We lost/mostly several live oaks since 2011 and the drought. One, died from the crown, one large mass at a time, and now resembles a 10' totem pole with scraggly gro...
view the full question and answer

New growth on Amur Maple turning black in McPherson, Kansas.
June 29, 2010 - Re: Amur Maple bushes Approximately 2 yrs old, 4 ft tall. New growth at the end of some branches is turning black. Plants are mulched with grass clippings. We live in Kansas. Thanks for any info....
view the full question and answer

Gaura Plants Dying In PA
July 16, 2014 - I had six gaura plants. They were beautiful last year. Now I have one that is doing well and the others are dying slowly one at a time. I don't understand this. They are on a slight slope and have ...
view the full question and answer

Reason for die-back of native Mahonia repens
April 01, 2008 - I have several mahonia repens plants planted on my property. This is the third spring for them and I have noticed that they look like they might be dying out. The leaves have turned brown and are cu...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center