Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - August 14, 2013

From: Lincoln, DE
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Wildflowers
Title: Help for Collapsing Tradescantia
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

My tradescantia has completely collapsed at the crown. The stems are yellowish. This happened once before when I had it planted in full sun and I just had to discard it. This time I have one planted in part shade down near the natural pond on which I live. Could it be a vole? None of the other plants have had this happen.

ANSWER:

Although Tradescantia is usually relatively free of problems from pests and diseases, it has been noted by Chuan Hong, Extension Plant Pathologist at Hampton Roads AREC that  Tradescantia virginiana (Virginia spiderwort) is attacked by Southern blight, a soil-borne fungus (Sclerotium rolfsii) that causes crown rot.  A search online didn't find a connection between voles and Tradescantia.
The University of Minnesota Extension have an online factsheet about Southern Blight. They say the first symptoms are yellowing and wilting of the lower leaves. Then the leaves start to dieback from the tips and ultimately the succulent stems fall over. The fungus typically attacks the plant just under or at the soil line.  Another sign is a large amount of cottony white thread-like mycelium around this infection point. Control of Southern blight is a challenge in the south where cold weather doesn't slow it down.  Prevention is the best strategy. Inspect all new plants and their associated soil carefully for the symptoms and signs noted above. If you have any doubts, consider putting a new plant in a quarantine area of your garden, where, if it is diseased, the disease can not spread to other plants.
If Southern blight becomes established in your garden, there are some important cultural controls you can implement to reduce the spread of this disease. When dealing with Southern blight, sanitation is particularly important. Fungus spores can be transported around your garden with infected soil. For this reason, carefully clean soil off your tools and even your shoes. Transplanting infested plants is another way the fungus is spread around a garden. Because the fungus can overwinter in mulch, it is helpful to remove mulch from the crowns of the plants. Soil solarization, a process that heats the soil to levels sufficient to kill many fungi, is a control measure used in the south.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Virginia spiderwort
Tradescantia virginiana

Ohio spiderwort
Tradescantia ohiensis

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Why is my recently planted Esperanza doing poorly in Texas City, TX?
May 28, 2010 - I have an Esperanza I planted about 2 months ago. It has been doing well, except today all but one stem of the plant is wilting and the leaves are rolling. I see no bugs on the plant. Any idea what...
view the full question and answer

Possible reasons for yellowing leaves in seedlings in Ohio
June 19, 2006 - I have a problem with my seedlings. They start yellowing of one leaf then die. When I remove the leaf another one starts. I have photos. I have two differant seedling plants and they are experiencing...
view the full question and answer

Need to find a place to buy Western Soapberry in Paris, TX.
May 05, 2012 - Where is the closest place to purchase a Western Soapberry tree?
view the full question and answer

Leaves dropping on native Texas Mountain Laurel in San Antonio
September 20, 2008 - Please help. We have a beautiful TX Mountain Laurel in our front yard. This year the leaves are dropping like snow in the north. What do you think is wrong with our tree?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Cleyera and Red-tip photinia
June 01, 2008 - I planted a row of Cleyera in a bed that receives sunlight for about 3 hours during the middle of the day. My problem is that a number of the plants are dying. It begins with the leaves on one small...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.