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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

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 - July 16, 2009

From: Edwardsville, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pests, Watering
Title: Fungus gnats on house plant in Edwardsville IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I recently purchased a Trailing Perennial Plant, and I am seeing a lot of gnats flying in my house. Could this be the problem?

ANSWER:

First, we need to tell you that a Trailing Perennial is not the name of a specific plant, but of a type of plant, no doubt from the label on the plant at the nursery where you purchased it. We have no idea what your plant is, native or non-native, and it doesn't really matter because the problem is fungus gnats. These almost undoubtedly came home with you in the pot. House plants are almost always over-watered and this creates fungus in the potting soil, which in turn attracts the gnats. They are more a nuisance than anything else, but no one likes like black flying thingies lurking over their lunch salad. We found an excellent article from Learn 2 Grow, All About Fungus Gnats, by Suzanne Wainright Evans. There are three pages of this article, so be sure and read it all. It has suggestions about prevention (if you see gnats around a plant in the store, walk away and don't look back), treatment (not quite so much water, please) and problems the gnats can cause, like spreading disease from one plant to another formerly healthy one.

 

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