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Saturday - June 27, 2015

From: Brenham, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Shrubs
Title: Turk's Cap and Pavonia insect problems
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

My Turk's cap and Pavonia lasiopetala (rock rose) plants both have quite a few leaves that are skeletonized in appearance. I do not see any insects on the underside of the leaves. What could be causing this, and how would I treat it?

ANSWER:

Turk's cap and Pavonia lasiopetala are both great plants for full sun sites.

Here's what we have on our website about Turk's cap ...This spreading shrub, often as broad as high, grows 2-3 ft., sometimes reaching 9 ft. Bright-red, pendant, hibiscus-like flowers never fully open, their petals overlapping to form a loose tube with the staminal column protruding, said to resemble a Turkish turban, hence its most common name, Turks cap. Especially useful in shady situations. Red flowers usually are produced in showy profusion during hot weather at the end of summer and early fall. White-flowered cultivars have been produced. Drought tolerant. Prefers partially shady sites. Under cultivation, Turk’s cap will adapt to and thrive in many different sites, including full sun and heavy soil, though unremitting sun will cause its leaves to become rougher, smaller, darker, and puckered. To keep at a desirable height and shape, prune back after a couple years. To keep it waist-high in the Southeast, cut it back to 5 inches after the last frost. Can be kept cut back to give the appearance of a ground cover, though it doesnt spread by either rhizomes or stolons but by layering. Will bloom even when cut short.

Howard Garrett, the dirt doctor states that there are various leaf-chewing insects like caterpillars and grasshoppers that attack Turk's caps but non are serious if the plants are in healthy soil.

And the Wildflower Center website has the following about Pavonia lasiopetala ...

 A small shrub, usually woody at the base only, with stems up to 4 feet tall. Found in shallow soil on limestone, in rocky places in woodlands, and at the edges of thickets. Leaves with petioles sometimes as long as the blade; blade up to 2 1/2 inches long, but mostly shorter, ovate to 3 lobed, with a pointed or blunt tip, flat or slightly lobed base, coarsely toothed or wavy margins, dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the lower. Flowers showy, rose colored, roughly 1 1/2 inches wide with a yellow column formed by the pistil and stamens, appearing from spring to fall. Fruit a 5-lobed capsule with remnants of the flower at its base, separating into 5 units at maturity.Prefers well-drained, limestone soils. Also Medium Loam Rocky, Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type.
Herbaceous stems rise from a woody base. Pink hibiscus-like flowers. Velvety, scalloped leaves. The flowers attract hummingbirds.

I have not found Pavonia to have any serious issues with pest problems. There probably was a larvae (or several) chewing on the leaves earlier but it has probably left to continue the journey to adulthood. Unless you can see what is munching the leaves right now, it is not worth spraying the plants. The culprit is probably long gone. If you want to deter the pest next year, check daily for pests about two weeks previous to this date.

 

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