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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 - March 28, 2013

From: Bryan, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Shrubs
Title: Death of lantana in Bryan TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to know what killed several new gold lantana in a single bed that died over the winter. They looked quite healthy last fall. I have several other new gold lantana that survived the winter very well in a nearby bed that are on the same irrigation zone. Both beds are raised. There are African Iris that look fine in the same bed as the dead lantana. When I pull out the dead lantana, only 6 inches of the root system pulls out with the stump, the roots are brittle and appear to be encased in a brown, porous material, about twice the diameter of what I think is the root. Any advice is welcomed.

ANSWER:

What you have is a cultivar or hybrid of Lantana camara, which is native to tropical and subtropical areas in Central and South America. Top growth is winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 (roots hardy to Zone 9). Brazos County is in USDA Hardiness Zones 8b to 9a, but since the same plant is doing all right in other beds we don't think that is the problem.

This Denton Count Master Gardeners article New Gold Lantana will give you information on the sun and moisture needed. Please note the Warning at the bottom of that page on the poisonous aspect of the plant.

Since the climate and watering is apparently appropriate for your plant, we have a feeling it is a problem in the dirt of that bed. Please read this article from The University of Arizona Cotton Root Rot. This deals with a fungus in the soil. We could find no information indicating that this plant was either susceptible nor resistant to the fungus.

Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, recommends only plants native not only to North America but to the area where the plants will be grown  (in your case, Brazos County) we have no further information. We are gardeners, not plant pathologists, so we suggest you contact the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Education for Brazos County.

From Google, here are Images of Cotton Root Rot.

 

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