En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Leaves turning yellow on Banana Shrub in Eutaw. AL

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - July 28, 2013

From: Eutaw, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Leaves turning yellow on Banana Shrub in Eutaw. AL
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We have a very large (about 12' tall), very old (probably planted in the early 1900s) Banana Shrub in our front yard. It was very healthy until last year when its leaves began turning yellow and falling during the Summer and Fall. This did not happen in years past. This Spring, it bloomed well and put out many new leaves. Many soon turned yellow and dropped leaving parts of the shrub bare. Even so, there is evidence of new leaves coming out. Our soil is fairly acidic. We have had heavier than usual rainfall and milder winters for the last few years.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants must confess that he was unfamiliar with Banana Shrub, and thought that this might be one of those common names that is widely used, and hard to pin on just one plant. A quick search of the web reveals that Banana Shrub is consistently linked to Michella figo  which is a member of the Magnolia family. It is a native of China, and thus is not in our NPIN Database.

This link to floridata indicates that it was introduced to the US in the 1700’s, and can grow up to 12 feet tall in acidic fertile, well-drained soil.

A link from Cal Poly suggests that it can reach up to 20 feet tall with a longevity of 50 to 150 years.

Information from University of Florida Extension says it can grow in either sun or light light shade, and it prefers a slightly acidic, well-drained sandy soil that has been enriched with organic material.

Whenever you have a plant that has been doing well, but suddenly starts doing poorly, you need to explore what has changed in the plant’s environment; new sprinkler system? over fertilization?

The symptoms sort of point toward too much water on the roots which could be a result of your additional rainfall and  a watering schedule that hasn’t changed to accomadate the extra moisture. Here's a link from Oregon State University with watering tips you might use.

You can get more information on soils and watering from the ACES Offices  in Greene County.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Is Viburnum opulus var. americana (Viburnum trilobum) Self-fertile?
April 02, 2014 - I am trying to attract birds to my Chicago area yard and I believe I have good conditions to grow highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). My question is about the need for cross pollination. The liter...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Shrubs for the Houston area
March 24, 2011 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in the Houston area and I am looking for an evergreen native shrub (no more than 7 feet tall at maturity) for two locations - one would be in full sun and the other ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for memorial garden in Michigan
March 04, 2008 - I want to start a memorial garden for my daughter. I live in northern Michigan and the area has very tall white pines we have pruned them up about 15' so the area does get partial sun. Which plants w...
view the full question and answer

What hydrangeas can be grown in Austin?
June 02, 2011 - I was told that oak leaf hydrangea was the only hydrangea variety that could be successfully grown in Austin TX. My oakleaf hydrangea is doing great and I would like to plant other varieties. Can you...
view the full question and answer

Replacement Yaupon holly doing poorly in Pflugerville, TX
May 09, 2012 - I had to replace quite a few shrubs after the drought last year. I live in Austin, TX. I have planted 3 dwarf yaupon holly bushes in the exact same place where the previous three same type of shrubs...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center