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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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Thursday - August 21, 2014

From: Newport, RI
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Shasta Daisies without Petals
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

My shasta daisies do not have the white petals, only the yellow center is in bloom. There are no visible signs of insects. They get a good amount of sun - about 5 hours per day. What could be the problem?

ANSWER:

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) are great perennial plants and according to the Missouri Botanical Garden's Plant Finder website, they were originally developed by Luther Burbank in the 1890s near the snow covered Mt. Shasta in northern California. They aren't a native plant but are hybrid crosses made from four plants: Leucanthemum vulgare (European oxeye daisy), Leucanthemum lacustre (Portuguese field daisy), Leucanthemum maximum (Pyrenees chrysanthemum) and Nipponanthemum nipponicum (Japanese field daisy).

Anyway, since there are no signs of insects (although they could have been active at night) and the cultural conditions are adequate for blooms, the plant may be showing signs of Aster Yellows. One symptom of Aster Yellows is deformed flowers without petals (phyllody, which is the development of leaf-like flower petals). This phytoplasma disease is difficult to control and there is no cure. Infected plants should be removed and destroyed if you suspect this is the reason for your petalless flowers.

 

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