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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.

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Friday - July 17, 2009

From: Sun City Center, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Native firebush dying in Sun City Center FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a native firebush, it is suddenly dying branch by branch, from the inside out, I have noticed odd things look like wasps but with speckled wings on it. What could be killing it. The inside branches that are being attacked look wilted for a few days, then they start to die, please help.

ANSWER:

Hamelia patens (scarletbush) is a native of Central and South Florida, so you're right on the spot there. The resources we looked at all said it had "no significant pests or diseases" but that doesn't help you much, does it? We did some research on some flying insects that were a possibility. We found websites on each of the insect pests that might like the firebush, and we suggest you look at the pictures, compare them with the insects you have seen flying and check suggested treatments.

Colorado State Extension website on spider mites

University of California Integrated Pest Management thrips

University of California Integrated Pest Management whiteflies

University of California Integrated Pest Management aphids

In all honesty, we have no idea if any or some of these might be the problem. You didn't say how old the firebush is, and we're wondering if some change in the environment might have caused this loss of leaves and branches. Not being entomologists, and unable to make any diagnosis from a distance, we would like to refer you to the University of Florida Extension Home Gardening Section for Hillsborough County Florida. If there is some pest invading your garden, it is invading other gardens, too, and the Extension office should be the place that knows about that. There is contact information on the website, and they may have a ready answer for you. 

Pictures of Hamelia patens (scarletbush)

 

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