En Español

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 - September 16, 2007

From: hagerstown, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care of non-native house plant, probably Coleus
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What would cause the new leaves of a house plant to be solid green? When I bought it, the original leaves were almost like a "tie-dye" fabric (green,yellow,orange, and red).

ANSWER:

Most house plants are non-native tropical or sub-tropical plants. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the protection and propagation of native plants, because of the economic and environmental benefits. However, we are always glad to help out with plant care, and will see if we can figure out why you're not getting the leaf colors you expect.

Although you didn't say what the plant was, we suspect from your description that it may be a form of coleus. Solenostemon scutellarioides is a southeast Asian species which has been popular as a house plant since Victorian times. It has been extensively hybridized to include most colors of the spectrum except true blue. The first clue we found to why your plant's new leaves are green is that the colors of coleus tend to be more pronounced in a shaded area. In other words, if you have it in a sunny window, try a slightly less bright area. The second suggestion is that you might be feeding it too much plant food. Excessive nitrogen will turn the leaves of most plants greener, and thus thwart the bright colors from appearing. And, finally, it could be that just the new leaves are green; as they mature they may very well begin to show their colors.

So, in summary: dim the light, cut down on the fertilizer, and increase the patience. Hopefully, those new leaves will grow up to be tie-dyed.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Identity of the mass fields of yellow flowers in North Texas
March 23, 2012 - Are the mass fields of yellow flowers we are seeing in north Texas now likely to be Indian Mustard (brassica juncea) or Charlock (brassica kaber or sinapis arvensis)? We are teaching a wildflower ide...
view the full question and answer

Frost damage to non-native Mexican Maradol papaya from San Antonio
March 31, 2011 - I planted Mexican Maradol papaya in my San Antonio garden last year. The plants grew about 5' tall and were starting to flower. Then the winter freezes blasted them; now there's nothing left but stu...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 04, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I have a plant that was given to me and told it was spider plant, but I don't believe it is. The plat grows up and has leaves coming out like a spider plant but they are gree...
view the full question and answer

Queen Palm Fertilization in Arizona
March 06, 2012 - I placed standard Miracle Grow in a root feeder device and inserted into the ground around all of my Queen Palms. Why have they taken a turn for the worse (furled tips on all new branches) Can you ov...
view the full question and answer

Rabbit-proof Plants for Florida Swimming Pool Area
February 22, 2016 - I plan on planting white star jasmine and purple bocouilla plants around a south-facing swimming pool in Naples, Florida. I was told rabbits might eat them which we do have. Should I be concerned, and...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center