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 18, 2013

From: Ethel , LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Shrubs
Title: Waxy deposits on Magnolia fuscata from Ethel LA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 4yr old Magnolia Fascata (aka banana shrub)- I noticed that it has small oval shaped yellow waxy deposits on the branches.. I have also noticed small black ants on the branches. The unknown deposits do not seem to be affecting plant growth, but just wondering what it is so that I can treat it. Thank you for the response.

ANSWER:

Magnolia fuscata or Magnolia figo (Banana Shrub) is a low evergreen tree native to China.

Banana shrub grows best in an acidic, deep sandy loam soil.  It is basically pest free but can occasionally suffer freeze damage especially in or near zone 7. From PlantAnswers.co, here is some information on Michelia figo, which is a synonym for the same plant. According to the USDA, this plant is only recorded as growing in one county in Mississippi, but obviously you are growing it in Louisiana. From Floridata, more information on Michelia figo.

Since this plant is not native to North America, we have no information on it in our Native Plant Database. However, it sounds very much to us like you have aphids on your plant, which in turn attract the ants. The ants are harvestiing the "honeydew" (aphid poop) which they feed to their young. This is the waxy substance you see on the leaves. It can turn dark with mildew. The article on aphids we referred you to above is from the University of California Integrated Pest Management and has some information on controlling it.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Plants to replace hydrangeas in a wet area in New York
July 09, 2010 - Dear Smarty, Two years ago I planted 4 Endless Summer Hydrangas in front of the front porch of my summer cottage on Saratoga Lake. The first year they struggled the second they are limp. Can you give...
view the full question and answer

Gardening in Bahrain
June 07, 2011 - Hey, I'm living in Bahrain where the climate is really hot and the soil is kinda very salty. I've got my mango tree in the ground already, transferred it 2 months ago from the pot. I've noticed the...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in Spicewood TX
March 20, 2013 - I am from a small community along the Colorado River a few miles East of Marble Falls. We are looking for a ground cover/grass to prevent erosion on on our beach front. We had planned to use Bermuda G...
view the full question and answer

Starting Yarrow (Achillea) and Daucus from Seed
July 16, 2014 - I need to deadhead my cottage yarrow. I assume it has gone to seed. What do I do to plant it as seed? If I can do it, can I do it now or do I need to wait until spring. If I need to wait until spring,...
view the full question and answer

Source for nitrates and phosphorus (P205) for lawn care
July 04, 2008 - I recently supplied soil samples from my back yard to my local extension here in Austin. I have a hybrid Bermuda turf grass (TIF 419) that has had its share of ups and downs, and wanted to assess the ...
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