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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 - June 23, 2011

From: Buda, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Leaves on non-native Confederate Jasmine dry up in Buda TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Leaves on star or confederate jasmine vine dry up. Not due to lack of water and I can't find any insect damage. Starts with one shoot and then spreads to entire plant. I will try to attach pictures.

ANSWER:

We are no longer able to process pictures from our correspondents. You can go to our Plant Identification page, which will give you links to some forums that do accept pictures, and might be able to help you.

On your specific question, Trachelospermum jasminoides, Confederate Jasmine, is native to China and therefore not in our Native Plant Database. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow natively. We found a Floridata article on this plant that details growing problems.

We do know that Confederate Jasmine can be invasive, climbing up trees to the point that the excess weight can bring down a tree in adverse circumstances. According to this USDA Plant Profile map, Confederate Jasmine does not grow in Texas at all, but in Louisiana and Florida. This might indicate that the plant has a problem with our alkaline soils, as the soils in the Southeast tend to be more acidic.

Other possibilities we can report are, if the plant is fairly recently planted, it could be at risk of winter death or summer drought injury, both of which has been a fact in the weather we have had in Central Texas over the last 12 months. It is hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 7 and Buda is in Zone 8b, so normally climactic conditions would seem to be okay for this plant. But how often do we have "normal" in Central Texas? Finally, the plant prefers shade, which we consider to be 2 hours or less of sun a day, and part shade, 2 to 6 hours of sun.

Beyond that, we really can't help you. The fact that it starts with one shoot and spreads to the whole plant indicates a systemic problem. Occasionally, we have seen plant problems similar to this occur when a "weed and feed" fertilizer has been spread on the lawn. The purpose of this product is to kill broad leaf plants, regarded as weeds in a lawn. However, if it has been put down carelessly, it could have affected the jasmine, which is also a broad leaf plant.

 

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