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

Monday - July 01, 2013

From: Emory, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Unknown ailment of Turk's cap in northeast Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I just moved from the Dallas area to Emory in the north east part. I brought two young Turk's cap plants in pots. I had to leave the mother plant behind. The tops have a very curled and shrunken appearance and one plant has this strange stuff on it that looks like sugar or salt granules. I can't see any pests but there has to be something there. The mother plant never had any problems. How can I treat this?

ANSWER:

One of the most common problems of Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap) in Texas is powdery mildew.  This fungus disease often shows up on leaves near the top of the plant, causing the leaves to be somewhat shriveled and spotted with areas of powdery white fungus.  The white areas are often more extensive on the lower side of Turk's cap leaves.  It is not too serious a disease, but the affected leaves should be removed and the plant sprayed with fungicide.  The Safer company makes a sulfur-containing, biodegradable, combination fungicide/insecticide that might be appropriate for the situation, although in my experience fungicides seem to slow down but not eliminate the disease completely.

Powdery mildew does look somewhat like POWDERED sugar but not granulated sugar or salt.  So we should consider that your problem may be of another sort.  If the white material looks something like cotton you may be having an infestation of mealy bugs.  These individual bugs have a cottony appearance, and you can find some easy control methods in this eHow site How to Control Mealybugs.  The Safer product mentioned above should be effective for mealy bugs as well as any other insect pest.

If your problem is powdery mildew, it can spread by spores wafted through the air and settling on leaves in a moist or humid setting.  It would be good if you can position your Turk's cap plants where they can get some early morning sun or good air circulation to dry off dew or humid air as quickly as possible each day.  This would lessen the chances for continued serious outbreaks of the disease.

 

From the Image Gallery


Turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Identification of worm feeding on chockecheery
August 03, 2007 - I am looking to find out what sort of worm looking insect, is commonly found on chokecherry trees. It has a turquoise appearance with yellow fingerlike projections on the back. It suctions onto the ...
view the full question and answer

Leafing out problems with oaks in Towson MD
June 02, 2012 - 3 native 5-year-old oaks kept old leaves until March and are not leafing by the end of May. The few leaves that have emerged are shriveled. WHAT'S WRONG?
view the full question and answer

Damaged leaves on bottlebrush buckeye from Glen Mills PA
June 09, 2013 - My recently planted bottlebrush buckeye plants' leaves are looking damaged but it doesn't look like insect or fungus damage. They look battered by wind but I don't understand why that would happen...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Live Oak in Boerne TX
April 24, 2011 - I had my large Live Oak trimmed last year. This spring there seems to be a problem with leaf growth. Most leaves are small in nature and appear to have been attacked possibly by bugs. Many of the bran...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Ashe juniper from Lakeway TX
May 25, 2013 - Dear Sir/Madam, I have been living for the last three years in Lakeway, Texas approximately 20 miles west of Austin. In my back garden there are several ashe junipers about 15-20ft tall. However...
view the full question and answer

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