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

Wednesday - October 12, 2005

From: Buena Vista, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Smarty Plants on fungal attack
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have three plants that have been getting fungus on their soil and I've tried to get rid of it by scraping it off, watering it less and more sunlight. It's two coleus and a begonia. I don't know what else I can do to get rid of it. The fungus attacked the base of one of the plants, and I'd really like to be rid of it. Once I get rid of it, is there a way I can keep it away?


Since both coleus and begonias (neither are native species) are easy to propagate by cuttings, I recommend that you do that. Just take some cuttings of healthy top-growth from your plants and start them in water or sterile rooting media in a warm window with bright, indirect sunlight.

Remove the diseased plants along with the top two inches or so of soil and replace with clean topsoil or potting media. Don't place discarded, diseased plants in compost, they should be thrown in the trash or burned. Otherwise, it sounds like you are taking the right steps to avoid most fungal problems. Before using any kind of fungicide, you should first positively identify the pathogen. Your county extension agent can assist you with that if you desire.

Here are a couple links that you might find useful. The first, House Plants: Proper Care and Problem Solving is an excellent information page of North Dakota State University. Another, Houseplant Diseases and Disorders is published by Clemson University Extension.


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Grubworms in Austin Flower Bed
March 09, 2011 - How do I get rid of grubworms in my flower beds?
view the full question and answer

Yaupons dying back in San Antonio
April 23, 2009 - I have 4 yaupon shrubs in the same area for several years. This past winter one turned brown from inside to outside very quickly. It is dead but the roots are not loose. The others began doing the sam...
view the full question and answer

Loss of blooms in potted plants in Hawaii
November 11, 2007 - My lanai is in strong afternoon sun and no matter what "full sun" plants I try to grow they quickly stop blooming. Plumeria, Hibiscus, Echinacea, even Bougainvillea...they continue to grow but lose...
view the full question and answer

Plant mistakes from Cedar Park, TX
April 09, 2014 - At our "Wilts End" in Cedar Park, TX. and are looking for a tall shrub/tree that will hide a 6-ft tall concrete wall and muffle the noise from a busy street. The wall forms a very wide-angled V shap...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Live Oak in Boerne TX
April 24, 2011 - I had my large Live Oak trimmed last year. This spring there seems to be a problem with leaf growth. Most leaves are small in nature and appear to have been attacked possibly by bugs. Many of the bran...
view the full question and answer

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