Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Shrubs Questions

Shrubs for New Hampshire
June 25, 2009 - Will be landscaping next Spring: Do you think using 'Ilex Crenata'-Japanese Holly together with variegated Euonymus (species: fortunei) as shrub hedges in front of our house is a good combo? Do they...
view the full question and answer

Why do the leaves of my potted Esperanza plant look droopy?
August 13, 2009 - My Esperanza plant leaves look droopy. I have it in a big pot and have for 3 years.
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for a Shady Foundation Planting in Texas
February 28, 2015 - We are looking for foundation shrubs, 2-4' mature height, for a totally shaded area which does receive bright light all day.
view the full question and answer

Will desert rose (Rosa stellata) survive in south Florida
July 30, 2008 - I have a mature desert rose and I wanted to plant it in the ground. I live in southwest Florida.I want to know will it survive and should I wait to plant it next year?
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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.