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
1 rating

Monday - June 19, 2006

From: Toledo, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Possible reasons for yellowing leaves in seedlings in Ohio
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus


I have a problem with my seedlings. They start yellowing of one leaf then die. When I remove the leaf another one starts. I have photos. I have two differant seedling plants and they are experiencing the same thing. I have lost plants in the past this way. Who might test this leaf for the cause of this problem? I was thinking a school or a soil test lab. I have samples I have taken to test. I want to start a company growing violets and don't want to start a bunch of plants that die from infection. Any help would be great.


If it is only the lower leaves that are yellowing and dying, this is a normal process that happens as the new leaves above them are added and treatment is not required. However, if yellowing and dying occurs with all the leaves, you do have a problem. One possibliity for the cause of the death of your seedlings is a condition called damping-off. This is caused by a fungus. Control for this disease involves regulating the moisture content of the soil to keep the fungus from thriving. You should provide good drainage for the seedlings and water them thoroughly—avoiding frequent sprinklings of the soil. Providing good air flow around the seedlings is also important. Additionally, it is a good idea to start your seedlings on pre-sterilized soil.

Your Ohio State University County Extension Agent can give you information on soil and tissue testing.


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Shrubs for Central Texas that are Verticillium Resistant
April 16, 2015 - We need a list of at least a few shrubs in the 6'x3'+ size that are Verticillium Wilt resistant. We have taken out the affected Elaeagnus and would like to replace it with a screen of similar densit...
view the full question and answer

Growing Dwarf Yaupon Holly in Texas
December 04, 2013 - We planted 10 extra dwarf yaupons in our Austin front yard. They were identified as 'Gremici' dwarf yaupon. I googled them to get more information about them in order to determine why five have di...
view the full question and answer

Cool, wet summer effect on evergreen sumac
August 28, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I have 3 evergreen sumac bushes that I planted as a screen between my house and my neighbors two years ago. They are located in a part of our yard that receives a lot of runof...
view the full question and answer

Need help with Wheeler's Dwarf Pittosporum
September 02, 2015 - We have about five Dwarf Wheeler Pittosporum plants. All of them are mature and were doing well. I was on vacation for a week or so and when I came back I saw of each of them is plant 90% dead. The d...
view the full question and answer

Fungus Spots on Native Bush Honeysuckle
December 03, 2010 - My native bush honeysuckle plants that I have along my back fence have leaves that are turning yellow with spots. It appears to be a type of fungus, but not powdery mildew. Any suggestions as to what ...
view the full question and answer

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