The Q&A Archives: withering vine

Question: I bought a tangerine cross vine from Marina Garden Center. It had a Monrovia nursery tag on it. After it about a week of it being planted I noticed that it wasn't doing well. The leaves are wrinkled and have a red vein where they are withering. The flowers are also wrinkled. I went to Marina nursery and they said it was mites. They suggested a spray. which I cannot use because it is among herbs and vegies. So I bought some Lady bugs as an alternative per their suggestion. I looked at the remaining crossvines in their stock and they had the same problem. I happen to be landscaping our yard so I went to another two nurseries to find other plants in general. I looked at their vines and I noticed all the tangerine cross vines, all from Monrovia nursery had the same problem.

What is the problem with these vines? I am very concerned because I do not want them to infect my other plants. None of my other plants have this problem so far.

Please let me know what to do before it affect my soil or other plants.



Answer: I'm sure you're alarmed to see your plant looking unhealthy, but I think the problem needs more thorough investigation. Crossvine is not subject to any specific insect or disease problems so I'm not convinced yours has a mite problem. Mites typically show up in late summer when conditions are hot and dry. When they feed, they cause a stippling (splotchy off-color) on the leaves and webbing where the leaves attach to the stem. Although the leaves of the crossvine are glossy green in summer and turn red in the fall, it's possible some of the leaves on your new plant are showing the reddish color because of transplant stress. When plants are newly put in the ground, they suffer a bit of stress until the roots can become established. This stress shows up as wilting leaves, or dropping leaves, or even off-color leaves. In the case of a crossvine, it might also show up as a wrinkling of leaves and flowers because the amount of moisture transported by the roots might be less than normal during this adjustment phase. (Mites don't feed on flowers, only leaves.) Since the fall color is red, stress might also cause some of the leaves to show a reddish color. It's also normal to see some slight wrinkling of the leaves in a healthy crossvine. Just for future reference, mites are difficult to see without a magnifying glass so I'd suggest examining a leaf for signs of pests before deciding to spray the plant. If you're still convinced your plant has an insect infestation, why not take a few of the affected leaves to your local cooperative extension office or Master Gardener Clinic for a thorough diagnosis?

Once your crossvine has had a few weeks to adjust to its new surroundings it should improve in appearance. Water it deeply once each week to help it adjust.

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