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

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

Browning leaves on Ilex vomitoria in Houston
July 02, 2009 - Houston, we have a problem!!! I have a number of yaupon bushes that have been in my yard for years that have a large number of leaves turning a solid dark brown color. Any ideas of the cause?
view the full question and answer

Possibility of oak wilt in red oak in Austin
December 25, 2010 - I planted a Red oak tree in Austin January 2008. It was container grown but decent size, over 15ft tall. This summer (2010) its leaves turned color as if it were fall and started dropping. I starte...
view the full question and answer

Mexican Lime Turning Yellow
March 25, 2015 - What causes moderate yellowing of 40% of the leaves of an 8 year old Mexican Lime Tree that is booming and blooming right now with lots of thick new growth? I used a general garden fertilizer a few ...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to Mexican olive in Austin
December 13, 2009 - I have a Mexican Olive tree/bush. It is young - about 8 ft. tall. This last freeze in Austin made many of its leaves turn black. I got this from your database: "Its native range extends no farther...
view the full question and answer

Discouraging Poison Ivy
June 27, 2015 - Is there a fern that discourages poison ivy from growing?
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