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?


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

Thursday - July 16, 2009

From: Edwardsville, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pests, Watering
Title: Fungus gnats on house plant in Edwardsville IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I recently purchased a Trailing Perennial Plant, and I am seeing a lot of gnats flying in my house. Could this be the problem?


First, we need to tell you that a Trailing Perennial is not the name of a specific plant, but of a type of plant, no doubt from the label on the plant at the nursery where you purchased it. We have no idea what your plant is, native or non-native, and it doesn't really matter because the problem is fungus gnats. These almost undoubtedly came home with you in the pot. House plants are almost always over-watered and this creates fungus in the potting soil, which in turn attracts the gnats. They are more a nuisance than anything else, but no one likes like black flying thingies lurking over their lunch salad. We found an excellent article from Learn 2 Grow, All About Fungus Gnats, by Suzanne Wainright Evans. There are three pages of this article, so be sure and read it all. It has suggestions about prevention (if you see gnats around a plant in the store, walk away and don't look back), treatment (not quite so much water, please) and problems the gnats can cause, like spreading disease from one plant to another formerly healthy one.


More Watering Questions

Transplant shock
July 27, 2006 - Today I dug up a new natchez variety crape myrtle that had only been planted about 3 months ago. It is fairly young. It was very difficult to dig up as it's root were pretty settled in the spot it ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Cedar Elm in Kerrville TX
April 28, 2012 - We live in 10 miles outside Kerrville - have a Cedar Elm tree - planted 4 or 5 years ago, 15-20 foot high, is losing leaves in the top 1/4th. Rest of leaves look healthy and green.
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Cherokee sedge in Spicewood, TX
May 18, 2009 - I have several Cherokee sedges, just planted in March. Three of them are doing fine, but the rest look like they're dying. Some are right next to one that is doing great. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

Defining drip line on trees from Austin
August 08, 2011 - When you say that trees should be watered at the "drip line," do you mean that literally? I assume that the drip line means at the outside edge of the leaves or branches. Does that mean that waterin...
view the full question and answer

Water requirements for fruit trees in California
January 15, 2013 - Dear Sir; In which of these options (fruit trees) the need for watering in irrigation process is higher than the others: -Olive tree -Nectarines and peaches trees -Hazelnut trees -Pistachios and ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center