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
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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Health of pond cypress
April 08, 2005 - Is there a common reason pond cypress trees vary greatly in their apparent health in similar conditions? I have 7 of them on my property, only two look healthy, one died and fell down recently. The lo...
view the full question and answer

Freeze-damaged Texas Mountain Laurel in Austin, TX.
May 05, 2011 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) that is several years old. During this past winter, one of the freezes we had split one of the largest trunk right below the soil line. T...
view the full question and answer

Problems with a Cercis (Redbud)
August 25, 2014 - Half of my redbud tree is pooped out looking. On two places on the bark are areas where a few layers of bark have pulled back. In these areas there are white growths.
view the full question and answer

Insect pests in Gaillardia aristata in Tennessee
August 22, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a couple of 'Oranges and Lemons' blanketflower plants in a butterfly and hummingbird native flower garden that is the foundation planting of my house. They bloom prol...
view the full question and answer

Lantana isn't blooming in Leander, TX.
August 03, 2011 - I bought a small potted New Gold Lantana about 2-1/2 weeks ago. I planted it in full sun and covered it with mulch. The few original flowers have fallen off. Although, I see a couple of new buds, ...
view the full question and answer

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