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

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

Will damage to live oak root make it more susceptible to oak wilt
December 24, 2012 - Hi. I knicked the root of a live oak when digging. Will this hurt the tree and make it more succeptible to wilt? Is there something I can use to protect the exposed part of the root and make it les...
view the full question and answer

Effect of unusual wet weather on desert willows
July 23, 2007 - I live in North Central Texas and have 3 beautiful Desert willow trees that are usually in full bloom. I've kept them pruned to form a nice full tree shape but now they are losing leaves and looking ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with maple tree in Redding CA
July 17, 2012 - I have a 2 yr. old October Glory tree that is looking bad. It leafed out this spring, but not as much as the others. In total I have 9 red maples along a fence row about 15 feet apart. The trees on ei...
view the full question and answer

Advisability of trimming oak trees in August
July 13, 2007 - In general,what is your opinion on pruning oak trees in August? If it is positive, should the extreme moisture of this year affect the timing?
view the full question and answer

Century plant leaves falling over from San Antonio
April 10, 2013 - Have a large century plant about % feet tall. The leaves are falling over. Can you tell me what to do to avoid this.
view the full question and answer

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