Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport 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

Sunday - July 28, 2013

From: Eutaw, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Leaves turning yellow on Banana Shrub in Eutaw. AL
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We have a very large (about 12' tall), very old (probably planted in the early 1900s) Banana Shrub in our front yard. It was very healthy until last year when its leaves began turning yellow and falling during the Summer and Fall. This did not happen in years past. This Spring, it bloomed well and put out many new leaves. Many soon turned yellow and dropped leaving parts of the shrub bare. Even so, there is evidence of new leaves coming out. Our soil is fairly acidic. We have had heavier than usual rainfall and milder winters for the last few years.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants must confess that he was unfamiliar with Banana Shrub, and thought that this might be one of those common names that is widely used, and hard to pin on just one plant. A quick search of the web reveals that Banana Shrub is consistently linked to Michella figo  which is a member of the Magnolia family. It is a native of China, and thus is not in our NPIN Database.

This link to floridata indicates that it was introduced to the US in the 1700’s, and can grow up to 12 feet tall in acidic fertile, well-drained soil.

A link from Cal Poly suggests that it can reach up to 20 feet tall with a longevity of 50 to 150 years.

Information from University of Florida Extension says it can grow in either sun or light light shade, and it prefers a slightly acidic, well-drained sandy soil that has been enriched with organic material.

Whenever you have a plant that has been doing well, but suddenly starts doing poorly, you need to explore what has changed in the plant’s environment; new sprinkler system? over fertilization?

The symptoms sort of point toward too much water on the roots which could be a result of your additional rainfall and  a watering schedule that hasn’t changed to accomadate the extra moisture. Here's a link from Oregon State University with watering tips you might use.

You can get more information on soils and watering from the ACES Offices  in Greene County.

 

More Trees Questions

Most numerous trees in the Piedmont NC from Chapel Hill NC
September 20, 2012 - What's a list of the most populous trees in piedmont North Carolina?
view the full question and answer

Can Condalia hookeri (Brasil or Bluewood condalia) self-pollinate?
May 07, 2014 - Good morning Mr. SP, I see from your description of Condalia hookeri that this species has bisexual flowers. Do you know if it is self-incompatible?
view the full question and answer

Flaming sumacs in trouble in Wimberley TX
August 31, 2010 - I planted three flaming sumacs last fall and all leafed out this spring. Then, early this month all the leaves turned brown on one and it appears to have died. Today I noticed that a second one is d...
view the full question and answer

Chickasaw Plum suckering potential in Washington DC area
May 11, 2015 - I have planted some chickasaw plums around the border of my property. My property is surrounded by a wooded area, which then opens into a golfcourse. Is there a chance that my chickasaw plums would...
view the full question and answer

Mail order source for Guaiacum angustifolium from Ft. Worth TX
April 16, 2014 - Do you have a mail order source for the seeds of Guaiacum angustifolium? I have looked extensively and cannot find one. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

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