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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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Monday - March 28, 2005

From: SF, CA
Region: California
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Pustules on geranium
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a geranium that has developed oblong red/brown pustules/raised bumps on the undersides of the lower leaves. The foliage around the bumps is stil green but everything else has yellowed

ANSWER:

Thank you for writing! The problem you describe sounds like oedema (sometimes spelled: edema; pronounced: ed-ee'-ma). Oedema is not a disease, but a physiological disorder. It is a problem with many plants, but is an absolute disaster for geraniums (Pelargonium X hortorum) -- especially ivy geraniums (P. peltatum). Native geraniums are not as affected by the condition. Oedema is a result of ruptured cells, usually on the underside of a leaf, caused by a complex of issues involving water availability, humidity, temperature, air movement, and plant nutrient levels. In severe cases, the plant will drop the injured foliage, sometimes denuding the plant. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website has a nice article on Geranium Diseases including a section on oedema.
 

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