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?

Share

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
1 rating

Wednesday - August 14, 2013

From: Lincoln, DE
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Wildflowers
Title: Help for Collapsing Tradescantia
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

My tradescantia has completely collapsed at the crown. The stems are yellowish. This happened once before when I had it planted in full sun and I just had to discard it. This time I have one planted in part shade down near the natural pond on which I live. Could it be a vole? None of the other plants have had this happen.

ANSWER:

Although Tradescantia is usually relatively free of problems from pests and diseases, it has been noted by Chuan Hong, Extension Plant Pathologist at Hampton Roads AREC that  Tradescantia virginiana (Virginia spiderwort) is attacked by Southern blight, a soil-borne fungus (Sclerotium rolfsii) that causes crown rot.  A search online didn't find a connection between voles and Tradescantia.
The University of Minnesota Extension have an online factsheet about Southern Blight. They say the first symptoms are yellowing and wilting of the lower leaves. Then the leaves start to dieback from the tips and ultimately the succulent stems fall over. The fungus typically attacks the plant just under or at the soil line.  Another sign is a large amount of cottony white thread-like mycelium around this infection point. Control of Southern blight is a challenge in the south where cold weather doesn't slow it down.  Prevention is the best strategy. Inspect all new plants and their associated soil carefully for the symptoms and signs noted above. If you have any doubts, consider putting a new plant in a quarantine area of your garden, where, if it is diseased, the disease can not spread to other plants.
If Southern blight becomes established in your garden, there are some important cultural controls you can implement to reduce the spread of this disease. When dealing with Southern blight, sanitation is particularly important. Fungus spores can be transported around your garden with infected soil. For this reason, carefully clean soil off your tools and even your shoes. Transplanting infested plants is another way the fungus is spread around a garden. Because the fungus can overwinter in mulch, it is helpful to remove mulch from the crowns of the plants. Soil solarization, a process that heats the soil to levels sufficient to kill many fungi, is a control measure used in the south.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Virginia spiderwort
Tradescantia virginiana

Ohio spiderwort
Tradescantia ohiensis

More Pests Questions

Pest damage to Yaupon shrubs in Austin, TX
September 18, 2011 - I have noticed pest damage in our 4 ft. yaupon. There are circular holes eaten on 90% of the leaf growth. Trunk & branches look untouched and healthy. Could this be leafminers? How can I care for it?...
view the full question and answer

Asclepias with whitish discoloration
May 26, 2008 - I have red/scarlett milkweed planted in my yard. The leaves have a whitish discoloration on the top of some of the leaves and it is spreading. What is it? What do I do about it?
view the full question and answer

Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus
June 20, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I bought a Cylindropuntia imbricata from the Wildflower center and it was growing like crazy. I recently noticed a lot of beetles feeding on it. Some are black and some are gra...
view the full question and answer

Removing grassy weeds from cactus garden in Corpus Christi TX
May 07, 2013 - How do you get grassy weeds out of a cactus garden? I don't want to use roundup around the cacti? Can you recommend a herbicide that won't harm the cactus?
view the full question and answer

Something dripping from red oak in Austin
July 30, 2012 - There is a large red oak outside my apartment. The leaves are shiny and covered with what appears to be oil. The ground underneath is coated with this also. When I parked under the tree my car beca...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center