Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

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
4 ratings

Sunday - July 02, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Mystery pest eating portulaca blooms
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm from Texas and I purchased some portulaca from a local nursery about three weeks ago and planted them in the front yard....with plenty of sun. Here's the problem. The foliage seems very healthy, nice and green and full. Almost each plants seems to have a few flowers every morning and they open up well, but by the next morning the flowers are completely gone. I don't mean they've closed up; it looks as though all the flowers have been just snipped off. I don't think that they're being eaten by animals and I don't see any evidence of insects eating them. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Certainly, Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and other Portulaca spp. (e.g., Moss rose, Portulaca grandiflora) are edible and it sounds as if something is eating your Portulaca. Squirrels are a likely suspect, but I wouldn't rule out mice and rats, as well. Desert tortoises and land iguanas are known to eat Portulaca, too, but I think we can be pretty certain that those aren't your culprits. It is reported to be a favorite of deer which could be the culprit in some parts of Austin. However, I suspect the deer would go after all the plant, not just the flowers. I think most likely it is one of the small rodents named above.
 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Century plant leaves falling over from San Antonio
April 10, 2013 - Have a large century plant about % feet tall. The leaves are falling over. Can you tell me what to do to avoid this.
view the full question and answer

Texas Ash secreting sap in Lockhart, TX
July 05, 2012 - I have what I believe is a Texas Ash in my front yard that is secreting a sap with what looks like some wounds on it with some white stuff and with black and red looking ants as well as it has a lot o...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Dakota mock vervain
July 23, 2007 - We just planted some Verbena bipinnatifida in our back yard and when we planted it, it had purple flowers on it but now they've all dried up. We live in central Colorado and thought this plant was fa...
view the full question and answer

Brown spots on native oak trees
June 16, 2015 - Hi, My native live oak trees are declining. The leaves have small brown spots that increase in size until the leaf dies and falls off, then the branch and then the entire limb. I have not watered the...
view the full question and answer

Spots on just-emerging Zexmenia in Austin
April 02, 2010 - My zexmenia is just coming up from the ground after a cold winter in Austin. The leaves are all spotted with tiny holes as if something is munching on them before they even leave the ground or just as...
view the full question and answer

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