Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Friday - June 24, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Squirrels eating seed pods of Rock Rose in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Squirrel(s) have been ripping the branches off my rock rose bushes in order to eat the seed pods. Previously we had problems with squirrel(s) gnawing on our garden ornaments. I sprayed the ornaments w/ tabasco sauce and water and that stopped them. Will it harm the rock roses if I spray them w/ tabasco sauce and water? Or is there a better way to deter them?

ANSWER:

We don't really have any idea if tabasco sauce would hurt the roses, but we have another idea. Try deadheading the flowers off your bushes as soon as the bloom begins to droop and create the seed pods. You won't get any seeds, of course, but you probably are not getting any now. The squirrels, like the other wildlife that we share Central Texas  with, are suffering from the heat and drought and looking for sustenance wherever they can find it. If you are interested in propagating the rock rose, you can't gather seeds until they turn brown, by which time the squirrels (and the seeds) will be long gone. However, Pavonia lasiopetala (Rock rose) can also be propagated by taking stem cuttings. Here are propagation instructions for that method:

"Pavonia can also be propagated from softwood tip cuttings. Take cuttings in spring before plant starts to bloom, or on nursery plants kept cut back. Cuttings with big buds or blooms are at a disadvantage. They root and grow fast in hot weather. Cut a stem three to six inches long, just below the node. Remove all but the top leaves and place in vermiculite."

Since the Rock Rose is not a "true" rose, but a member of the Malvaceae (mallow) family, it is only woody at the base. The softer branches above are no match for the squirrels, but if the seed pods are never allowed to develop, maybe the animals will give up and go away. Or, maybe it will rain, and the normal diet of the squirrels will return, whatever it is. We thought they just ate acorns and nuts, but apparently they have adjusted to our difficult conditions.

 

From the Image Gallery


Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

More Pests Questions

Aluminum foil disorienting insects under plants from Brierfield AL
April 20, 2011 - Does covering the ground under plants frequently attacked by flea beetles with aluminum foil really disorient the insects? But does it also disorient beneficial insects?
view the full question and answer

Doodlebugs in dead area of Coral Bean from Houston
April 10, 2013 - I have a Firemans coralbean tree about 5 years old. I discovered yesterday in the middle of the tree there is some deadwood where we have pruned out branches. A couple of the branches were filled with...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for vineyard from Round Rock, TX
February 04, 2013 - I will be planting a vineyard in the Hill Country next spring. I am looking to maintain low-growing understory plants across the entire vineyard to maintain soil health, choosing plants that the leaf...
view the full question and answer

Demise of Flameleaf Sumac in Austin, TX.
July 31, 2012 - My Flameleaf Sumac suddenly died. Beetles came out around the trunk when I cut it down. How can I prevent this on the other sumac?
view the full question and answer

Problems with iguanas in Ft. Lauderdale FL
August 04, 2009 - I live on the intracoastal waterway near Ft. Lauderdale,FL and I am having problems with iguana. They will not eat lantana or buttercups; however is there a poisonous ground cover, preferable with fl...
view the full question and answer

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