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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 - May 31, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native squash plants wilting in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My squash plants were looking really healthy with only some yellow leaves which I was removing and this morning the plants just seemed to fall over. Lots of wilting and some of the branches are falling off. The fruit that was starting to form is rotting. What do I need to do to save it?

ANSWER:

"Squash" generally refers to four species of the genus Cucurbita, native to Mexico and Central America. It was one of the "three sisters" cultivated in Mesoamerica 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, which were squash, maize (corn) and beans. Both because of the vagueness of their origins and the fact that they constantly cross-breed or new species are developed by horticulturists, they fall out of our range of expertise. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are focused on the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown.

It is our understanding that the Cucurbita genus is very susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. Since the plant is not considered native and we are not plant pathologists, we really can't be of much help. However, we found a website called The Gardener's Network on How to Grow Squash that might be of some help to you. Also, the County Extension offices are much more attuned to the planting and care of food crops, so we suggest you contact the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Travis County.

 

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