Why is Fungus issues not diagnosed much here?

meyermike_1micha(5)December 23, 2012

Is there anyone here very knowledgable with diagnosing 'fungus' issues on plants?

I have lost many plants in the past to certain 'fungus' issues when I was always told it was anything but.

I have lost Begonias, Prayer plants, certain tropicals, San's and so on to fungus like Botrytis and others that only one person actually helped me with when others told me it was something else.
I will say, not due to my own fault, but to plants purchased that have traveled to my home already infected.
Plants delivered through mail too.
In fact, after three bouts of the same plant not making it on three attempts, I was finally told they were prone to fungus and that all their same species plants had it. They told me to stop ordering it.
All that time I thought it was my fault and my cultural practices.

How can one tell when a disease is affecting their plants or the ones they are about to purchase instead of blaming other factors?
My local Nursery just threw out a whole batch of Begonias being attacked by Botrytis which an unsuspecting customer would of never had known about.

Just wondering...

Thank you

This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Sun, Dec 23, 12 at 15:07

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Hi Mike..

Didn't you say just the other day that I was a fungi? :-)


    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 6:14PM
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Charlie: What someone may of said to you the other day might be a reason for debate but is of no viable response to the question.

Sarcasm with to many people having to many different opinions could be part of the many reason why fungus issues or problems aren't easily diagnosed with in the general house plant forum as much as you would like for them to be.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 7:05PM
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Sorry, Scrooge. Mike is a friend of mine.
He'll get the joke.
Any further problems Email me directly..
Or try a Laxitive.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 7:19PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)


    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 9:46PM
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I'm with tifflj on this one.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 9:56PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Charlie, I think you're a fungi too!

And, FWIW, I'm pretty sure I've had stuff like that on my plants too. I think it's really hard to tell one from another via picture and there are many similar maladies. Give it a few days, seeing as how it's so close to Christmas... bet you'll get some info.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 10:06PM
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Charlie: Try responding to the virus diagnosis subject. Who should be eating laxatives isn't why people dont post virus diagnoses on this forum.
I dont know you either and care not to privately email you simply because you have an odd sense of humor and felt secure enough in it to ask. Again me emailing you privately does not explain why people dont post virus diagnoses on a forum either simply put your off subject.
If that bothers you then grow up and stop wasting our time and yours.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 12:00PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Ya know , i was just going to let this go because no one wants a back and forth stupid battle but its Christmas... Pull the tinsel out of your butt and drink some spiked egg nog. Loosen up dude.

In case you havent noticed, we all joke around here with each other, we are all friends. And also if you havent noticed, most all these threads go off topic at some point.

The fact is, Charlie posted a one sentence joke to his friend... It wasnt a 7 paragraph bantar .Its really no big deal.

I happen to enjoy Charlies sense of humor very much. You on the other hand are just mean. And mean people suck.

Merry Christmas.

This post was edited by tifflj on Mon, Dec 24, 12 at 12:47

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 12:44PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hi Mike. It can be difficult diagnosing fungal disorders, even for those of us who may be more experienced. Consider that we're given a blurry image or two to try to identify the signs of disease and it's easy to see why most of us shy away from the mention of diseases, unless the signs and symptoms are very obvious.

Part of the reason is that, sometimes, the symptoms may look quite similar to other types of damage. Sun burn, soluble salt damage, insect activity, improper chemical use, even dish soap...can all cause physical damage that might make someone ask, "What's this disease? "

But there are pathogenic fungi which affect plants. There are many strains of Botrytis, for example. They affect different kinds of plant in a variety of ways....resulting in a range of symptoms.

Another issue that can make diagnosis difficult is that some of the things we measly humans do to our plants can set them up for infection. Over crowding, excess watering or fertilization, the misting of some plants, etc., can create the perfect environment for the onset of problems. And many of us bring diseased plants home with us from the garden center.

You've learned the hard way (like most of us) that certain plants are highly susceptible to certain problems. I tend to avoid those plants at all costs, whether houseplants or those for the landscape.

Three factors must be present at the same time for infection to occur. Firstly, the propagule must be present in the first place....as a spore, for example. Many are ubiquitous! Secondly, the plant needs to be susceptible, either by genetic predisposition and/or
in a weakened or stressed state. Lastly, the disease propagule must be surrounded by an environmental for its multiplication.

So, we have a great deal of control over plant issues!

OK...here's a question for anyone who's read this: name three specific things we can do to prevent a plant disease? Yes, this is a test!


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 1:47PM
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Hi Everyone...Merry Christmas,

Mike, Fungus/fungi is mentioned every so often..Probably when someone suspects their plant/s have a fungus/fungi.

If you do a search, type in fungus in GW's Search Box, you'll find fungus has been discussed.

Do you mind naming the plant you received w/fungus?
If the plant is one someone/others here have, it's easier to state an opinion..whether or not 'X' plant is suscepible to fungi. Or, if the nursery X plant came from is selling diseased plants.

Charlie, 'don't want any battles,' but I love your sense of humor. When I'm feeling blue, click on a thread where you posted, it always puts a smile on my face. Toni

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 2:30PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

A test!?! But it's Christmas Rhizo. lol..
Ok.. I will guess at 2 of 3 but will have to read again when i'm not in a rush. last min baking and such. lol..

Avoid plants that are susceptible, and provide proper care and environment. :-)

Merry Christmas to all!


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 2:41PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

OK Rhizo,

I'm game tho' happy to say have no experience w/ Fungi

1. Susceptability to it

2. Lack of air circulation

3. Soil kept consistently moist (w/out ever having a chance to dry out completely).

am imaging all need to occur before fungi:

Hi Mike: other than giving up on ordering plants which repeatedly get infected, have you spoke to Al about this? Am guessing he'd likely know a thing or 2 about it given all his yrs. of practical growing experience.

Maybe you should adopt my 3 strikes rule. 3 strikes & you're out (plant), I will not give something another attempt after 3 failures.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 3:37PM
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Hello everyone, I had to stop by with all the craziness and wish you all a good one!:-)

Let me start from the top///:-)

Charlie, not only did I say you are a fungi, but after much thinking on this, I also think you are a fun knee guy..lol. I think highly of you and your character. You made me smile.

Wes, I assume you got the joke? Knowing Charlie's character, he was trying to cheer me up. By the way, I did take you up on going to the Wayland Nursery, and publicly, that I yet again sinned..lol I did come back with another Orchid! I felt like I dies and went to heaven there!

Purple, Planto and TiFF...:-))))))))

Toni....Now, what's up? lol Are you staying out of trouble and watering your plants as I speak? I wish you well.

Rhizo!!! :-0))))) You always been an inspiration to me and there for me when ever I need you. Thank you:-)
I get what you are saying...
It"s just that the first conclusion many make here on diagnosing leaf issues seems to be anything other than that...Fungus which has been the number one issue on some of my plants while others may not know it's an issue unless someone tells them.
I guess the same plant dying to the same problem should be a good sign, especially when the same plants are coming from the same nursery that is sending out the same plants infected with the same fungus they would finally admit to.
There has been two people that have posted recently asking what the problem with their plants are, the very ones I lost to fungus issues that they got from the same place. The possibility of disease or botrytis in particular was not even mentioned and I don't feel qualified enough to make that diagnosis although mine died of this disease, and I would assume their plants bought at that same nursery died of the very same thing. The leaves they posted looked exactly like what mines were, not due to cultural practices or my mixes.

Karen, I must admit, I too have adopted that same attitude and no longer order plants susceptible to Botrytis or other diseases, begonias and bouvardia to name a couple.
The one plant I consistently lost to fungal issues was African Gardenia from that nursery. I have ones I now that have NO issues, but from a different nursery.

Jojo!! hello and I will join in on the test:-)

Provide plenty of air movement?
Do not overhead water, especially on cloudy days?
Do not overcrowd plant?

Rhizo, you got me....:-)

Merry Christmas all and much love !


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Mon, Dec 24, 12 at 18:30

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 4:01PM
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Sin away Mike but dont have to many visions of the citrus you left behind in your dreams tonightSugar plums included
My sin:
Your virus question and concerns just didn't read as a joke to me.. I think key points for this type of discussion would be what plant are you asking about, with pictures that could assist someone who may be able to name or confirm the virus and offer more assistance.

Mike It's okay every now and then to step aside from other problems other people have. I know this is hard you as your more the plant growers helper than the menace. If you did ask I'm more than sure someone would non jokingly help you.
Other solutions to some virus problems are also mentioned from you and others on this thread. Just like how you already know the garden center you mentioned did the responsible thing by trashing virus effected plants, which ultimately is one of the best way to prevent the spread of any virus.

My planting sin: 12 Clay pottery classes 11 hours of wheel spinning 10 free form (by hand) disasters 9... I cant sing all that well and I have to start dinner now so you fill in all the blanks....
And a Partridge in a pear tree..

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 7:41PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Mrl, no one has mentioned plant viruses. A discussion of virus diseases almost needs to be separate from fungal or bacterial disorders. Viral infections are quite rare with our common house plants, VERY species specific, and never spread from plant to plant by splashing water, strong breezes, or hand to plant contact. Plant viruses are also easier to identify (in my opinion) than a fungal or bacterial disease.

I'm thinking that you're a bit mixed up about the different causal agents of plant diseases. Prevention and cures are entirely different for virus induced plant diseases.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 7:40AM
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    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 5:18PM
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You can always take the suspected plant to your county agent and see if they can I.D. it. Here in AL, everything gets sent to Auburn and they send a report. farmerann

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 7:28PM
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three specific things we can do to prevent a plant disease?

1)Avoid susceptible plants by examination
2)Maintain cleanliness and sanitation of the environment
3)We can prevent disease by altering any one of the three factors that where mentioned.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 7:46AM
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Very GOOD advice and thank you everyone for taking part!:-)

I do think my main point is lost though.
I am not asking for help nor do I have an issue discovering what disease is on my plants. I usually find out through the methods suggested on top, googling, trying the same plant over and over again, treating with fugal sprays, or from the actual nursery themselves that are selling diseased plants and that admit it.

My point is this:

At times many are blaming the mix, fertilizers, and or over watering, when effect the plant itself is 'diseased' or has some sort of fungus attacking the surface. The Nursery tried to blame it on my mix or watering practices when effect it was diseased to begin with.
I must admit that many of the issues such as, leaf die back, brown spots on Jades, softening on Bouvardia leaves, yellowing to brown leaves on African Gardenia , browning on Begonia and Grape leaves, or yellowing on potted Cuke leaves can be misinterpreted as root issues,
This summer I lost all my container Impatiens and Cukes to 'fungus' when every one attributed the loss to over watering or light issues.

There were two members here that asked for specific advice, and the fact it was probably some sort of plant or leaf disease form the same company where I received mine was not discussed or a concern. I did make a mention of it though.

I just wonder how many are treating their plants for problems that don't exist while ignoring the ones that do and fail?


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Wed, Dec 26, 12 at 8:38

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 8:20AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I was wondering if you were talking about Impatiens, Mike. The fungus-like disease that is affecting Impatiens all over the world is called Downy Mildew. Science has not yet come up with a solution for this terrible problem. It doesn't respond to the usual list of treatments or cultural tasks.

This topic has come up frequently in other forums. I've said for a long time that it's up to us, the consumers, to become educated about downy mildew of impatiens and to pass the word to others.

The retailers are largely in the dark about this disease. The growers have all been informed, though, and the good ones do all that they can to deliver healthy plants to the retailer.

The typical garden center is a teeming petri dish for diseases and insect pests. The spores of downy mildew can be persistant and widespread. Even if we bring home healthy impatiens, the spores can travel for miles in the air and on rain drops...it's practically impossible to keep our plants disease free.

What to do? My opinion is that we need to practice avoidance of impatiens! Let the garden centers suffer the losses, not us. In the other forums, we've had discussions about what to use instead of that wonderful plant. Careful inspection before buying won't be helpful with this particular disease...it's very difficult to detect in the early stages....and all but impossible to avoid the spores.

In the meantime, the real key to solving this problem lies with plant breeders and geneticists in laboratories world wide. They'll come up with a way to create a resistant impatiens and with the millions upon millions of dollars at stake, my guess is that it will sooner rather than later.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 2:51PM
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Hey Mike!
I missed this thread until today. I worked as a grower in a a GREAT commercial greenhouse many years ago....and one that great a LOT of different type of plants and tried to always produce a quality product. You are right in that certain plants are more/less susceptible to certain fungal diseases. Botrytis was always a problem on certain plants.......begonias one of of them. Good air circulation, dry foliage helps with botrytis type diseases. It was often worst in the greenhouses in the cool/damp/dark winters. Treat any areas that are infected with a fungicide (and/or dispose of infected plants/sections). Powdery mildew would effect a lot of type plants.....usually the damage from it was more cosmetic. Then there was the damping off type funguses that usually effect youngers seedlings. Of course keeping the fungus from showing up in the first place (which can be difficult) is the best method......but once it is there you must treat the active infection and help makde conditions less favorable for it to spread.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Stush2049 Pitts. PA, zone 6

Ok, now my 2 cents worth. Plants must not be stressed out. Stress is what I think is most important here. Prevention. Like using cinnamon on the affected areas. Use of peroxide in the watering. Although it never did help me. And some times like Karen, avoid those plants that don't want to live with you. Hope it helps Mike.
And to all. Please don't get mad and offended so easily. Some times it's hard to type just what we are feeling and is taken wrong. I really love all you guys and hope I never offended anyone.
Also the use of virus in plants are being done to induce variegation and other weird effects. Which is wrong and produces a weaken plant. This was done with Hosta with virus X.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Careful inspection before buying won't be helpful with this particular disease...it's very difficult to detect in the early stages....and all but impossible to avoid the spores.
Must admit it was a fun test though thanks for asking the questions to keep some of us on our toes. My results are two for three and 66 % is still a passing grade but no bonus question ?

By visual eye inspection, yes in early stages it's more than impossible. As we dont go plant shopping with microscopes the common garden centers we shop usually doesn't use them to receive they're plant deliveries that they want to sell.

Bonus question ??? Roots also share information and are usually never inspected by the plant sales centers and very often times ignored by the buyer to also inspect perhaps it is here where a plant problem can be found as well ?

At times many are blaming the mix, fertilizers, and or over watering, when effect the plant itself is 'diseased' or has some sort of fungus attacking the surface.

An effected root on an effected plant could still remain infected even if re potted or re planted in a freshly made mix you use or fool proof soil made from XYZ
UGLY plant example: Mosaic is mosaic regardless of where it is and RMV is still RMV no matter what it's planted in.

I just wonder how many are treating their plants for problems that don't exist while ignoring the ones that do and fail?
Mike: Let me ask the same question in a different way and see if it still makes sense to you

Why would I treat a plant that doesn't have a problem if a problem doesn't exist ?
It's kind of like me asking... does anyone who has ideal 20 20 vision walk out of the eye doctors wearing a prescription lens.

This post was edited by mrlike2u on Thu, Dec 27, 12 at 23:48

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 10:16PM
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Exactly Wes! Thank you:-)

It doesn't need to make sense to me because I know why I started this thread.

But does it make sense to others?
The roots do have 20/20 vision and don't need help, but it is the diseased leaves that need a prescription!

Those members left here feeling at blame with the demise of their plants when in was actually a disease problem not brought on by them personally,

Privately one did e-mail me and I made her realize it was a fungus issue she was dealing with.
Even if she potted it into a well draining mix, she would still loose that plant. Once she treated for fungus, it stopped dying.

I did recommend a different supplier who could provide the same plant yet another friend here had lost twice, 'disease' free, and now realizes it was not her mx or watering habits that were at fault, and is very successful with the plant she has always wanted grow.

I am a proponent of good cultural habits and excellent mixes as many know, but these are not going to solve a fungus issue that already exists on the leaves of their plants.

How to 'avoid' these fungal problems was discussed here in this thread which was very informative and may have opened many eyes to which I am grateful.

My goal was to look at plants with leaf issues from a different perspective at times, and to understand it's important to take into consideration 'fungus' as a culprit too. Some to quickly blame the mix although it is true that the mix plays a key role in the vitality of a plant as I have always discussed.
Most times, it can be obvious with what's going on with a plant by the tell tale signs above the soil line and many are helped remarkably, especially here, but there are always those minute plants that fall through the cracks with the not so obvious signs, or masked symptoms that can easily be mistaken for something else that I wanted to make every one aware of.
Sometimes the most subtle things can cause our plants demise, and no stones should be left unturned.

I just wish being here to express one's concerns and suggestions as I have done was not at times mis-interpeted.
But I guess that is what comes with the territory and I accept that part in trying to help others here.

Stush, thank you for your wonderful and kind words. Hoping all is well these days for you.

Woodnative...Thank you for all that insight. It just goes to show you that one has to be aware of the fact that every time leaves show us signs of distress, it could be just about anything.
I am glad we are aware of this now.

Rhizo! You are so right! None of them plants for me this year. In fact, I will be buying the Guinea ones that don't get affected at all. I will also be growing plants less effected my disease or get the from a nursery that stands behind their product and doesn't make me feel like I am the one at fault for loosing plants to a disease which they sold to me in the first place and hopefully others have gained insight here.


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Fri, Dec 28, 12 at 8:28

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 5:51AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Actually, everyone who took the test scored 100%. I guess it was sort of a trick question, because there are so many right answers. But not all of the suggestions apply to every situation.

The very best scenario, in my opinion, would be that we all take a very careful look at our home and evaluate the actual conditions we have to offer plants. What is the light situation, the temperature, the relative humidity? Can we add artificial lighting, etc.?

Then, we purchase the plants that are most likely to be a good match, doing a bit of homework ahead of time. Plants aren't usually purchased with that kind of forethought, are they, lol?

At the very least, we should try to learn the inherent weaknesses of susceptible plants before we buy. And we should learn what the most common pests and problems look like so that we can leave the mites, scale, thrips, and diseases on the shelves of the garden center instead of in our home.

Mike...with regards to the impatiens Downy Mildew (only)...your property is contaminated with this disease. That's the problem. You can't tell if the plants you buy are free from spores! Even if they are as clean as a whistle, they can become infected by wind or rain carried spores. We can't even grow our own impatiens from seed and be sure that they won't become infected.

The only way to remain free of this particular disease is to not plant impatiens at all until they come out with resistant hybrids. Period.

Yes, the New Guinea impatiens are not threatened by DM. They, however, thrive in the full sun...not those shadier locations so brightened by our treasured impatiens. I love them, though.

Some of us in the other forums are becoming more and more intrigued by the gorgeous coleus hybrids showing up everywhere.

Good job, everybody! And thanks to our dear Mike for starting this great discussion.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 8:07AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

No fair! Trick question. lol..

You say plants from seed can be affected by Downy Mildew. Is it more prone in certain climates?

I'm in AZ. Very hot and dry. Would it be a risk here, or is it more prone to humid climates? I have a ton of seeds. Do I pitch rather than chance? Not sure the exact name, would have to find seed pack and look.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 3:18PM
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You say plants from seed can be affected by Downy Mildew. Is it more prone in certain climates?

I'm certain you can get a more reliable answer for your question by researching the plant by name. I do a bit of research as well and consider researching a plant as part of an inspection. Printed words from reliable sources that tell us more about a particular plant help in plant buying or not to buy.

My understanding and perhaps not accurate under all cases is that fungus only needs and would developed by environmental conditions and easily spread.

I think a fungus could effect a seed if the plant had a fungus during it's growth and seedling harvest. I'm almost certain that someone else can state the opposite and say that it wouldn't.

It's very possible the XYZ or ABC clematis you ask about could be a downy milder candidate but an accurate fungus effected plant and it's history answer doesn't always come from the persons trying to sell the seed.
Mike: To hear about your MIA forum friend kind of makes me think as fungus is at times on a forum " A splitting hairs subject."

Plants dont have guilt and blame wont help them grow. Why worry if it was me ? was it them ? was it the pot ? was it the seeds ? was it the soil ? was it the what ever ?
I dont have time to play the blame game for fungus or virus plants. Yet now and then I can easily spare a " sacrificial lamb plant" but before the lamb goes to the wolves at what price is upfront.

Those who read your comments can gain if they also notice your experience with begonias and other plants. Your failure means someone else can be aware of a POTENTIAL problem that may not of been known before to them.

Tell your MIA friend that even failures have an option..
Don't they ;)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 6:08PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Jojo, downy mildew of impatiens is not spread via infected seed, but seed grown plants can become infected from the ubiquitious and persistant spores found almost everywhere. My remark about seeds was expressly directed to DM of impatiens.

Call your local extension office and ask them if this particular disease of impatiens is prevalent in your area. If not, I'd go right ahead! Why not?

Does that answer your question?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 9:45PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Rhizo, Wes,
Thank you both. Lots to think about . I think I will pass on them all together. They are very popular around here in yards and containers. Not worth chancing it ending up here.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 11:54AM
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Not to change your mind but if the ones you see growing take a closer look in seasonal and year round for good health and you have the same clematis seed ....
If you really want to grow a clematis or two or three with no clematis addictions allowed. It's up to you.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 10:45PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Like....jojo never mentioned clematis. The word 'climate ' was used. I'm reasonably sure that we've been discussing IMPATIENS and a very species specific fungus-like disease called Downy Mildew of impatiens.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 5:42AM
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