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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 - December 27, 2012

From: Rockville Centre, NY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Prickly pear doing poorly on Long Island NY
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

First, thanks for your reply on 11-3-12, re.Can a prickly pear cutting from Harker Heights, TX find happiness in Long Island, NY. The plants were set before a southern window in the attic, temp. range 50-70 degs. All seemed well, but the plants are developing blotches, shades of white, green, black, real ugly. Help! what's afoot? Have a blessed, peaceful, healthy, prosperous Holiday Season.

ANSWER:

It is hard to diagnose plant maladies when you have the plant in front of you, but doing it long distance is almost impossible. 

The temperature sounds a little low, but may be just about right for the season. The light in a south facing attic window is probably too low for a desert plant that likes full sun. What about water and soil conditions? Plants growing in sub-optimal conditions are often susceptible to attack from bacteria and fungi.

I am including links to a couple of sources that might prove helpful.

 A plant disease handbook from TexasAgriLife Extension .

"Cactus Diseases", an article from the Cactus Museum

There is an affiliate of the New York Cactus and Succulent Society on Long Island whose members should be able to give advice on growing Opuntia in New York City.

I’m sorry that your prickly pears are doing poorly, and the thought just occurred to me; maybe they are “home sick”.

 

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