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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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Wednesday - June 13, 2007

From: Pascagoula, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Crown rot in Agave americana
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My Century Plant's leaves get soft toward the base and eventually fall over and I have to cut them off. What causes this?

ANSWER:

It sounds as if your Agave americana (American century plant) has crown rot, probably from overwatering and/or inadequate drainage. The rot itself is caused by bacteria or fungus that enter the plants through wounds. In the desert bacteria may be introduced by weevils but that may or may not be the case for your plant in Mississippi. You should check the plant carefully for the agave weevil (it looks a lot like a boll weevil). If you find them, you should remove them and you might consider treating the plant with an environmentally-friendly pesticide. Most likely, yours is a fungal infection from overwatering and poor drainage. In that case, reduce your watering significantly and treat with an environmentally-friendly fungicide and hope for the best. You can read more about care for Agave.

 

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American century plant
Agave americana

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