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Facebook Q&A Session 5th October 2012


Thompson & Morgan Facebook Q&A Session 5th October 2012 - Your horticultural questions answered.

Click here to view details of our previous Q&A sessions.

Name: Jade Harrison

Question: I grew an avocado plant from its stone three years ago and it's currently living in a large pot in a friend's conservatory. I've had it out in the garden over the summer where I think it's picked up something - the leaves are being eaten by something I can't see. Could it be leaf miners? How can I tell and how can I treat it before all the leaves are gone?

Answer: Hi Jade. If you could provide a photo it would be much easier to diagnose the problem. However, if you suspect leaf miner is the cause then the damage will be fairly obvious. Leaf miner tends to be a generic term that is applied to the larvae of certain moths, beetles, and flies that all cause similar damage. Different leaf miners tend to be specific to particular host plants so it is hard to say which species of leaf miner might be affecting your avocado.

Leaf miner causes yellow or whitish tunnels and blotches within the leaves where the larvae have been feeding. In some cases it is even possible to see the miners inside the leaves if you hold them up to the light.

Although the damage may look unsightly, it is unlikely that this pest will cause any severe harm to your plant. Your avocado may drop severely damaged leaves but new ones will develop to replace these.

Particularly badly affected leaves can be snipped off and destroyed, but the best way to control this pest is to squash the larvae within their tunnels before they pupate and emerge as flies. Just squidge them between your finger and thumb. I hope this helps you Jade, but if the damage is different to this then post a picture and I will happily take a look at it.

Name: Nicky Connolly

Question: This is my first year of living in Cyprus and I'm trying to grow plants from seed. Can I plant things earlier as we don't have frosts?

Answer: Hi Nicky. Yes you should be able to plant out earlier than in the UK. Just make sure that they are large enough and have a good, well developed root system before you plant them. Best of luck.

Name: Simon Smith

Question: Hi have a yellow passion fruit in our garden, just wondering is the yellow variety edible and if so how do I know when it’s ripe?? Does it go wrinkly like purple passion fruit??

Answer: Hi Simon. Most species of passion flower are edible but there are a few species that are toxic unless fully ripe. I am assuming that you are growing the most commonly found species in the UK, Passiflora caerulea, which produces yellow-orange coloured fruits. The fruits of this species are edible, although not particularly pleasant to eat as they have a decidedly bland flavour. Fruits will normally drop to the ground when ripe and this is the best indicator that they are ready to eat. However, if you are in any doubt whatsoever about the species that you are growing then you should not eat them.