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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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Thursday - May 27, 2010

From: Tucson , AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Failure to thrive of non-native Confederate Jasmine in Tucson AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My Star/Confederate Jasmine, a 30 foot long wall of it, for over 5 years now has one side of it losing leaves. I seem to remember it did this one other summer, but came back in?? What could be the problem. I have inspected it for mites, cant see any, it gets ample water, the other side looks fine. I am perplexed. I don't want to rip out any of the full wall of this fragrant plant. Can you tell me some things it might be? We have clay here after a foot or so, but that has never bothered it before. We also have those awful Japanese beetles here, would they invade the roots of this? Thanks!

ANSWER:

This article, Tracelospermum jasminoides, from Floridata, will tell you it is not a true Jasmine and, in spite of its name is not native to North America but to China. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown, so this plant is out of our range of expertise and not in our Native Plant Database. We have heard that it should be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer for acid-loving plants, especially if your soil is alkaline, which it probably is in Tucson. As for the Japanese beetle, that is also out of our line, as we are gardeners and botanists, not entomologists. We found one article about it from the USDA Animal and Plant Inpection Service. According to the Floridata site, this plant is hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 10, which should be all right for Tucson, and that it does not have any serious pests. Since beetles can't read, we would suggest you contact the Arizona Cooperative Extension Office for Pima County to see if there is some sort of infestation. It seems unlikely that beetles or some other pest would only work on one side of the plant and ignore the other.
 

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