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By Grey
Posts:  3255
Joined:  Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
As the first couple of weeks of spring rolled in in the UK it was unusually warm; my pinguicula were coming out of dormancy with gusto and pumping out new growth and blooms. All looked good until I noticed a tiny handful of my plants weren't growing with the usual finesse that I am accustomed to this time of year.

I monitored these plants carefully and made sure they were separated from the others as I noticed some oddness on their leaves - thinking it was pest related I repotted them and kept them to one side to prevent the spread. Time went by and I noticed no new growth so I inspected the crowns (also known as the "heart") of the affected pinguicula and noticed a bizarre blackness - almost like it had been cut and then scorched.

I wasn't sure if it was sunburn (I'd increased watering to accommodate the increased evaporation levels and could have splashed the leaves somehow) or something else so I continued to watch carefully... I watched in horror as the leaves of the affected pinguicula began to turn brown and crispy from the crown outwards.

Pinguicula are sensitive to aerosol treatments (and I am severely athsmatic) so I did some research to look for alternative methods to cure this mystery "illness" and I didn't like what I read.

I wanted to direct all pinguicula owners in the direction of an article regarding browning heart disease. It is believed to be a combination of a fungus (known as Fusarium) and a nematode infestation... The fungus is naturally present in soil but is unable to penetrate the tissue of pinguicula... bring in the nematodes; female nematodes enter the roots of pinguicula to feed and therefore this gives the fungus a chance to attack and enter the living tissue of our plants. Death happens within a few days.

Now, I don't want all of you pinguicula owners to suddenly start panicking and thinking "OH NO WHAT AM I GONNA DO MY COLLECTION NOOOOOOO" (though I'd understand). Browning heart disease can be prevented through the use of specific fungicides and careful watering schedules. You can find the article I referred to earlier here:

Browning Heart Disease

Video courtesy of Darkrai283, thank you so much Richard - so sorry for your loss!

Red flags have gone off in my head as I noticed my young P. spec Lautner showing the same symptoms today - this happened literally overnight and this plant is in my main collection tray. Once I have repotted all my plants into individual pots I will update my website with this new information as well as adapting my recommended watering techniques and other such relevant articles.

Please be aware that watering via the tray method is still a good way to go about keeping your pinguicula with the right amount of water however if you ever notice any signs of browning heart disease please stop using the tray method immediately. Repot your plants and water from the top until you are certain that everything is all right. Sorry to be a bit of a scare-monger, that is not my intention. I wasn't aware of browning heart disease and was startled when I learned about it so I simply wanted to share my discovery to stop others from losing plants.

Edit: I've added the new information to my website and will continue to update it should I find any more information.

RNSSG: Problems & Diseases
Grey, Grey, Grey and 9 others liked this
By Grey
Posts:  3255
Joined:  Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
You're welcome. I did try to contact the authors of the article linked above but got a postal delivery failure notice. Bah! I'm up to nine plants on my death count, I'm hoping it'll all be okay now. I've got a new page up on Grey's Pinguicula Garden that I'll throw a link to as well...
By hackerberry
Posts:  1704
Joined:  Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:58 pm
Grey, I'm sorry for the lost plants. Try the Hydrogen Peroxide method.
Dilute h2o2 equal to 3 parts water then lightly spray the "affected area" and drench the soil and let it flush the old water. Let the soil dry a bit then see what happens.

hackerberry liked this
By Kbud
Posts:  517
Joined:  Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:37 am

I agree with hackerberry - You should try that method. You really don't have anything to lose with it. It's like the black death....
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By xr280xr
Posts:  2807
Joined:  Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:29 pm
That sucks, sorry to hear! I lost some vegetable plants to this fungus in the Fall. Thanks for the warning. I don't own any pings yet but like to know what to watch for before I start growing. I've seen mexican butterworts sold in an equal parts peat, vermiculite, sand, perlite, pumice mix. Would you think nematodes can live in such a grainy, airy mix?
By Grey
Posts:  3255
Joined:  Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
Thankfully I haven't had a reoccurance of the issue since early last year; I was going through a spell of overwatering due to having repotted so I probably didn't help the situation. Thank you all for your support though. I'll keep the Hydrogen Pyroxide method in mind if there are any more issues.

The soil mixture I used was very airy but I think I added some extra peat for moisture retention, really not necessary for this species. Due to my sporadic watering I thought it would be a good idea but now I just stick to my super airy mix. The peat/vermiculite/sand/perlite/pumice mix sounds absolutely ideal to me, something I'm hoping to put together too. Good luck to you, xr270xr.
By JDallas
Posts:  13
Joined:  Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:19 pm
I read this thread with great interest. We've been fighting this off and on for quite some time just thinking we were keeping plants too wet, but sometimes the Browning Heart Disease will get plant that are just moist too. Great Info!

Anyone know if this could cause problems with Drosera adelae too? We've had unexplained deaths in many where we never had problems before, and plants are in the same growing conditions.

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By xr280xr
Posts:  2807
Joined:  Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:29 pm
I don't know but it seems reasonable that it could if the cause is nematodes chewing and spreading a fungus.
By BoothEatsBUGS
Posts:  438
Joined:  Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:41 am
Thank you so much Grey! Because of this thread I may have saved a couple of my pings. I noticed slowed growth and browning spots on each. I followed your method, Repotted them, sprayed them with Safer sulfur fungicide and put them in my rainforest to get top watered.

Here's proof that this method of yours works.

P. Jaumavenensis showing new growth

N. Aphrodite struggling but showing signs of regrowth. It's smaller sibling died :(

I found my media mix was WAY too water retentive. I x planted them into a 'Dryer' mixture with lots of perlite and vermiculite.

Thanks for this great thread!
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