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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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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Wednesday - July 06, 2011

From: La Mesa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pests, Transplants, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Caterpillars ate my Sophora in La Mesa, CA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Before I noticed what was happening, my newly-planted 1 foot tall Sophora secundiflora was eaten by caterpillars. It now has no foliage. Do you think it will leaf out again?

ANSWER:

Well the culprit is probably the Genista Caterpillar. It is the larval stage of the brown moth Uresiphita reversalis which is much less conspicuous than the caterpillar. One of its favorite foods is the Texas Mountain Laurel.

As to the recovery of your plant, its hard to say. Since it lost all of its leaves, you could look at this as an extreme case of transplant shock. The roots may have enough stored food to keep the plant going, but you need to be patient. Give it only enough water to keep the soil moist, and by all means, do not fertilize the plant. This link has information about bringing plants through transplant shock.

As you nurse your plant back to health, keep in mind that its growth requirements include well drained calcareous soil with a slightly basic pH of 7.2. Try to make it think its back home in Texas.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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