Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

Tuesday - October 27, 2009

From: Monroe, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care for non-native Mexican ruellia in Monroe LA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dwarf Mexican Petunia I have found information that late in the season, when growth becomes leggy, cut back plants by as much as a half to force a new spurt of growth. Watch for tobacco bud worms, aphids, snails, and slugs. What is the most effective plan for controlling the above problems? I have grow beds and all my potted plants both in the hoophouses and out in the open are on black ground cover secured with six inch staples.

ANSWER:

You are really dedicated to those ruellia; we believe we just answered a question from you about holes in the leaves of your ruellia. They are, as we mentioned to you in our last answer, still not native to North America, and therefore out of our range of expertise.

In fact, the holes in the leaves that you asked about last time may very well have been caused by slugs or snails, the bane of any plant that is in moist soil and shading the ground for the beasties to hide. From The Garden Helper, we found this information on Controlling Snails and Slugs in Your Garden.

Apparently the tobacco budworm is quite a pest of geraniums and petunias, and this University of Florida Entomology Dept. website  on Tobacco Webworm has some suggestions, but no guarantees, on control. 

Aphids are really pretty easy to control-a good squirt of water or, if you are really serious, a good squirt of soapy water, will wash them off and they can't get back onto the plant. This University of California Integrated Pest Management website discusses the control of aphids in more detail.

As for trimming your plants back in the Fall; this is always a good idea with perennials. We like to leave about 6 inches of the stalk so we will know where they will begin to emerge in the Spring and not accidentally mistake them for weeds and yank them out. 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Potted non-native mimosas in the U.S.
July 12, 2009 - We need I hope there is someone who could tell me where I could find potted mimosa plants in the US.
view the full question and answer

Acre-scale Grass Removal near Austin, TX
July 04, 2014 - How do I get rid of 10 acres of Kleingrass?
view the full question and answer

Invasive, non-native Siberian peashrub for waller TX
February 02, 2012 - Good Morning Mr. Smarty Plants! I am trying to find out if the Siberian Pea Shrub is a good plant for Southeast Texas or if it is considered an invasive no no. It seems to have many qualities for wild...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Star Jasmine poisonous to dogs from Dallas
May 20, 2013 - Is star jasmine poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Small white bugs on indoor hibiscus in Ohio
November 25, 2008 - My Hibiscus has small white bugs on the leaves with small white residue. Looks like very small pieces of white rice. This white rice is also covering the UNOPENED buds and making them fall off. It ...
view the full question and answer

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