En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - December 27, 2012

From: Rockville Centre, NY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Prickly pear doing poorly on Long Island NY
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


First, thanks for your reply on 11-3-12, re.Can a prickly pear cutting from Harker Heights, TX find happiness in Long Island, NY. The plants were set before a southern window in the attic, temp. range 50-70 degs. All seemed well, but the plants are developing blotches, shades of white, green, black, real ugly. Help! what's afoot? Have a blessed, peaceful, healthy, prosperous Holiday Season.


It is hard to diagnose plant maladies when you have the plant in front of you, but doing it long distance is almost impossible. 

The temperature sounds a little low, but may be just about right for the season. The light in a south facing attic window is probably too low for a desert plant that likes full sun. What about water and soil conditions? Plants growing in sub-optimal conditions are often susceptible to attack from bacteria and fungi.

I am including links to a couple of sources that might prove helpful.

 A plant disease handbook from TexasAgriLife Extension .

"Cactus Diseases", an article from the Cactus Museum

There is an affiliate of the New York Cactus and Succulent Society on Long Island whose members should be able to give advice on growing Opuntia in New York City.

I’m sorry that your prickly pears are doing poorly, and the thought just occurred to me; maybe they are “home sick”.


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Non-native invasive carrot wood tree losing leaves in Alpine CA
April 22, 2014 - My carrot wood tree is losing all of its leaves. The tree is about 15foot high & 13 years old. Could it be gophers? The tree was trimmed 1 year ago.
view the full question and answer

Trumpet Vine Dropping Buds
July 25, 2013 - My trumpet vine is dropping its buds before flowering. This happened last year as well. Do you know what is causing this and what I can do to prevent it?
view the full question and answer

Palm trees turning orange in Miami
May 24, 2010 - Why are my palm trees turning orange?
view the full question and answer

Dealing with live oak suckers in Central Texas
March 05, 2015 - Hi, I have a couple huge Live Oak trees in my back yard. Trunks are 4' in diameter. These Live Oaks produce a lot of root sprouts/suckers. I had always head that a tree's roots feed on water/oxyg...
view the full question and answer

Bacterial spot in peach tree in McDade TX
February 05, 2009 - I have a Red Globe peach tree which was planted in February 2008. The local agricultural extension agent identified the tree as having Bacterial Spot in November 2008. They recommended copper hydrox...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center