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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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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!

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Monday - October 26, 2009

From: Monroe, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Pests, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Damage to ruellia in Monroe LA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have hundreds of Ruellia Brittoniana. Dwarf Katie White, Katie Blue and Katie Pink. I am finding holes in some of the leaves, Some just have notches chewed out of them. Some of the leaves have even fallen off due to damage it looks like. What can this be and what should I do? I have searched hundreds of questions on your site under plant damage and I still have not found for sure what I need.I saw your information and photos of spider mites, white flies Etc. I don't see anything like that.I saw what we call a stink bug that we see on cucumbers but I only saw one.

ANSWER:

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. There are 8 species of ruellia native to Louisiana, but none of them are those you are asking about, all of which are non-native hybrids, and therefore out of our range of expertise. However, we did do some searching for what might have been causing the holes in your plants, and it would appear the reason there is no information on pests and diseases for ruellia is that the general concensus is that it has no pests and diseases of any concern. One possibility that occurred to us is grasshoppers; we have observed in the past that they can be "hit and run" bugs, having a bite here and there but not hanging around. If they are not affecting your blooms, it would not seem you have much to worry about. You should also note that the ruellia is considered an invasive plant in many areas of North America, especially in the South. Read this article from Floridata on Ruellia brittoniana for more information.

Since we are neither entomologists nor plant pathologists, you might get better information from the Louisiana State University Research and Extension Office for Ouachita Parish.

 

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