Coral Bean invaders help!

MKull(8 SATX)July 13, 2014

Greetings fellow TX gardeners. It's been several years since I've posted here. Things are well in the garden, always changing, but I haven't had many problems to speak of. This year, all of a sudden our coral beans are being invaded. We have two, several years old and well established and never have had any issues. They are on opposite sides of the yard and both being affected the same way, so I'm hoping you knowledgeable friends will help to quickly identify and remedy.

The new growth tips are all being affected. It appears on most to be a small bore hole just under the first full leaf. The tips are dead and in many cases folded over on itself somewhat like a leaf roller. There is a collection of powdery white scale looking clumps on the tip/bend site, and the stems are being hollowed out. I just spent 20 minutes looking for the culprit and the only thing I saw moving was on one location, a small, white/clear spider. I went ahead and sprayed with insecticidal soap but I'm assuming I'll need a systemic as well.

So, what say ye in regards to the culprits?

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I wish I could help but know nothing about this tree except that I want one but I want the one that blooms with open flowers also called cry baby tree,firemans cap. I have the other bush type coral tree small closed flowers like the one Omar has pictures on exchanges, does your tree produces seeds? if it does maybe we can set up a trade? Thanks Marcie_new

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:00PM
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MKull(8 SATX)

I think you're referencing the erythrina crista-galli (cry baby). Beautiful they are. Ours are the erythrina x bidwillii which is the cross of crista-galli and herbacea. They're sterile so no seeds. I've tried several times to propagate cuttings via water with no luck. I haven't tried in medium.

As far as my invaders, I'm still not sure what they are. I did an inspection last night and this morning and still saw nothing. I treated with a systemic since it was pretty major. Lots of new growth I'll be keeping a close eye on; I miss seeing these :)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:45PM
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Just wondering (it's your garden, it's your choice), wouldn't the systemic insecticide affect hummingbirds, bees and wasps (among others)?


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 6:58PM
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MKull(8 SATX)

Omar, absolutely it will so it was a calculated decision. In the last 8 years, almost all of our garden issues have been solved by using compost tea or soap and water. Not once have I used a systemic in that time for anything. I nor anyone at the garden centers could identify the cause of this, and my "go to guy for in the know" hadn't ever seen nor heard of this in a coral bean. Usually if it were to affect a few stems here and there, it's manageable but whatever this is hit every branch and caused that damage within 48 hours. So, instead of risking losing the well established gems I chose the systemic. The downside is when the flowers start again, they will get snipped for the remainder of this season. It won't prevent say a hummer from eating insects on the plant but it'll prevent them from getting into the flowers. Everything else in the garden is fine and manageable with nature friendly means as usual so using the systemic this time for these two plants was the route I went. I can live with that.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 7:43PM
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MKull(8 SATX)

well I found the culprit. It appears to be a type of corn borer. Looks to me like the European corn borer. I was tending the plants again and decided to cut more and more and eventually gooey stuff started running out of one of the cuts. I knew then I had cut a caterpillar. I tried other stems and found quite a few. One was down almost 2 feet in a stem. This borer is a new one for me so I had no idea the CB could be affected by them. Looks like it's another thing to add to the list of things to look out for. I've never had any issues with the CB so admittedly I don't give it as much attention. I will now :(

Now I'm frustrated I used the systemic in haste and am contemplating cutting them way back.

Hopefully Marcie, Omar, and other CB growers will use my failure to their benefit.

Here's a link to the U. of Missouri's extension page on them where it exhibits all of my symptoms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Corn Borer info

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Thank you, mkull. Very interesting and informative. Now, what could be the organic management of the borer, besides scouting and trapping adult insects ?


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:58PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Yes, I too appreciate the follow up on this mysterious problem. Also appreciate your reluctance to use a systemic insecticide until it seemed that no other options were available.

I think BT would work IF you can apply it before the borer enters the plant, but of course with an ornamental plant who knew you would need to.

Interestingly, there is a corn seed produced by Monsanto incorporates the BT bacteria into the genetics of the corn plant itself to protect it from corn borers. Some feel that's not good a good thing for those of us who eat the corn, but who knows for sure.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:16AM
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MKull(8 SATX)

We all have that special plant we're attached to. Mine is the CB. I grew up with parents that love gardening and have always had beautiful, perfectly manicured gardens. As a kid I had no interest but I obviously picked up a lot of how-to's by osmosis :) What turned the tide for me was one trip to the tea gardens here in town 15 years ago and I saw the CB. The flower fascinated me and I just had to figure out what it was. That is what lit my fuse so to speak. When my parents moved back here last year, what do I get them? A CB of course! A bit overprotective I think.

Anyway, from now on, starting in early spring I'll start watching the leaves like a hawk looking for eggs and any signs of little brown entry holes. I know they didn't overwinter in the stems because it all died back with the freeze and I had removed them all. The interesting thing is every single problem spot is at the tip of the stem, right before or just after the last full leaf, even on long 6' branches.

I think I'll hatch some praying mantises as well. Won't my wife love that!

Honestly it helps just knowing about them and knowing to keep an eye on it more. I guess things are never a problem until they're a problem eh.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:47AM
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I think the reason why the damage presents on the tips is because the grub prefers the tenderness of the tissue in that part of the plant.

Interesting that I had a similar experience with the CB. The first time I saw it while visiting Austin I thought somebody was wasting his time planting a tropical plant in the ground. I didn't even bother to search information about it. The following year I was mesmerized when I saw the same plant even bigger. After that I started haunting it down. I don't understand why it is not more popular.


This post was edited by ocgf on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 10:34

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:33AM
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