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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.

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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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Tuesday - September 04, 2007

From: La Place, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Problems with purple passion flower
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hello, I live in La Place, Louisiana (30 miles west of New Orleans). In March 2007, I planted a purple passion flower (maypop). During the spring it thrived and was covered with brilliant green leaves and many blossoms. But now I am experiencing some problems. My question concerns the leaves. They started out lush and green, but now are pale and have become almost yellow. Some of them have dark spots and holes. Some have dried up and fallen off. The plant is in partial shade, and I keep the soil moist, but not soaked. The vine is in a very large planter and I planted it in Miracle Gro potting soil. It has a trellis to climb. The plant is still growing new leaves and blooming, but the older leaves look really bad. Any ideas why this happened? Could this be some sort of fungus or insect? I'd like to keep the new leaves from ending up like this. I appreciate your assistance!

ANSWER:

The possible causes of the leaf problems you describe are numerous. The yellowing foliage could be caused by too much water, too little water, sucking insects such as aphids and scale, other predators such as thrips and mites, fungal diseases or simply normal aging. The dark spots and holes can be signs of fungal diseases and/or chewing insect like grasshoppers or caterpillars or snails and slugs. Carefully examine the effected leaves (especially the underside) for tiny insects or mite. You may need a magnifying glass to see some of them. Check your plants at night for night-working predators like slugs.

To be sure of what is afflicting your vine you should contact your state's Cooperative Extension Service for a positive diagnosis.

 

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