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After several windy days, followed by temperatures in the mid to high 40's, my Malabar Spinach leaves had become spotted. Now the leaves and stems on one of the two plants have become droopy. Should I cut it back? Is it dying? Will it recover when warm weather returns, or should I assume that it has some disease and pull it out?

Comments (33)

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Malabar spinach should survive 40F temps easily. It just won't grow much. Years ago I would have a regular problem in the late fall with my Malabar spinach getting spotted and with holes in the leaves. It was suggested that this was a fungal issue. Since then, I spray with copper and Daconil every season, and have never seen that behavior since. Droopy leaves may signify a more serious problem. Malabar spinach is pretty perennial, so if it doesn't freeze, it will come back, but you might start fungicides for the new growth.

    timetraveler zone 9b Melbourne Beach, Florida thanked daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
  • four (9B near 9A)
    2 months ago

    > "I spray with copper and Daconil" ___ Do you not eat of the plant?

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago

    Duh. You wash the leaves before you eat them. Copper is not at all poisonous, and Daconil maybe only mildly so. Do you read MSDS's?

  • four (9B near 9A)
    2 months ago

    No, I ask questions of kind persons.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago

    You should read MSDS's. They are very informative.

  • timetraveler zone 9b Melbourne Beach, Florida
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    What are MSDS's ?

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    https://www.gardentech.com/-/media/files/gardentech-na/us/sds/gardentech-daconil-ready-to-use-sds.pdf

    MSDS = "Material Safety Data Sheets". Sometimes shortened to SDS = "Safety Data Sheet".

    "A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a document produced in alignment with the UN’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) that the manufacturer, importer, or distributor of a chemical product is required to provide to downstream users. The purpose of an SDS is to ensure that all workers who handle chemicals have the hazard information they need to safely use, handle and store them."

    The point being, if you want facts about the hazards and risks of a chemical product, as found from real studies, look at the MSDS for that product.

    Daconil is considered "possibly carcinogenic". You might be concerned about that if you were an ag worker, spraying hundreds of gallons of the stuff, and living in a cloud of it. It is understood that, for Daconil, there is no "wait time" after spraying before eating. Still smart to wash the stuff off. That being said, it isn't good for aquatic invertebrates or bees, so it should be used and disposed of wisely.

    Also worth noting that Daconil is a "contact" fungicide. It is not absorbed by the plant tissues. So you CAN wash it off.

    I do mostly organic gardening, but I do COMPLETELY safe gardening. The latter is more important to me than the former.

    timetraveler zone 9b Melbourne Beach, Florida thanked daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
  • dirtygardener
    2 months ago

    daninthedirt - you're not even in FL, and you've made your point. Just stop now. You're at the point of harrassment.


    four - mine get spots on the larger, older leaves every year, but if they're drooping and they aren't dry, they may be root rotted. Mine are growing in a 5-gallon pot, and I keep the flowers/seeds picked off of all but one branch so I will have more to plant for next year, but the other branches keep growing. Letting them go to seed signals them to die back.

    That being said, you might want to take some cuttings and try rooting them. This time of year, you'll have to keep plucking out the blooms to get them to make leaves, but it might be a way to save them.


  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Say, dirtygardener, I'm just providing some facts. I think you should back off. If you want to argue with my facts, please have at it.

  • timetraveler zone 9b Melbourne Beach, Florida
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    dirtygardener said: "Letting them go to seed signals them to die back" Aaah. Maybe that's the problem. Mine are full of purple berries. " if they're drooping and they aren't dry, they may be root rotted." Mine are drooping and they aren't dry, but can they get root rotted in sand, in the dry season?

  • timetraveler zone 9b Melbourne Beach, Florida
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    I can't find "Deb". Would that be "dirtygardener"?

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I don't think it is true that letting them go to seed signals them to die back. Mine go to seed every year and I leave one or two standing that may make it undamaged by frost until the next year. They often do. The plants certainly have profuse and healthy foliage while loaded with berries. It is true, however, that berry maturation does slow the growth. The plant is putting it's energy into making berries instead of making vines and foliage.

  • Glenn Jones(9b)
    2 months ago

    Timetraver yes Dirty gardener.

  • dirtygardener
    2 months ago

    Daninthedirt - Florida is a whole different world from Central TX. Your Z8a, Sunset 10 is high desert. Our zones are all subtropical, with high humidity. Where I am, Z9a/Sunset 28, our malabar spinach usually dies back with our first good freeze. It will keep growing until then if you pick off all the berries, which is why I leave the berries on one branch only and let the rest keep growing. USDA zones are confusing sometimes, as they only indicate the lowest yearly temperatures. Sunset zones are better, because they take all climatic elements into effect.


    There is the same difference in our zones and CA's USDA zones. Their warmer zones are Mediterranean climate, much drier than our same USDA 9s and 10s.

  • dirtygardener
    2 months ago

    timetraveler, I grow mine in containers, because the nematodes in our sand destroy them. If you're going to plant them in the ground, amend the soil with about 50% organic matter. I'll bet if you pull one up, the roots will be all knotty and full of nematodes. They can't take up water once the nematodes get them.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I wouldn't call where I am a high desert. I've lived in high desert, and this isn't it. Formally, it's a (Koppen) "humid subtropical climate", which is similar to Florida, which is a "tropical monsoon climate". I am Sunset z30. My Malabar dies back with our first freeze, which just happened last week. It's mostly gone. I pulled it out. Except a vine that was close to the house, and managed to survive. It'll probably fill out in the spring. I picked off a lot of berries, but left many, and it was still going strong when the freeze happened.

    Just FYI, I was here last month offering seeds to people. I've shipped out many packets. Some of my experience with it is listed there.

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/6020864/malabar-spinach-want-some#n=7

  • four (9B near 9A)
    2 months ago

    Does any of you know whether the berries are ok to eat, and good to eat?

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    They won't hurt you, but they aren't particularly good to eat. They are actually pretty tasteless. Note that the berries are historically used for purple fabric dye. You eat them and your mouth will turn purple. In fact, when you pick a lot of them, your hands get stained purple.

    At least John Kohler seems to believe that they are wonderfully nutritious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Gl2HjFt0I

    Just FYI, if you stain your hands with Malabar spinach berries, a little dilute bleach will remove the stain pretty quickly. I wouldn't try that in your mouth though.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    2 months ago

    > "pretty tasteless" ___ Thanks. (Similar to my opinion of berries of Beauty Berry and Corky Stem Passionvine. Sometimes I eat a few for whatever nutritional value they might provide.)

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I think the presumption that the berries are nutritious is because they are dark in color. The dark purple color comes from anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants, and are pretty healthy. They don't survive cooking though, so you'd need to eat them raw. I'd much rather get anthocyanins from blueberries, blackberries, concord grapes, and plums, though.

  • timetraveler zone 9b Melbourne Beach, Florida
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    I cut off all the berries and sprayed the plants with liquid seaweed and Serenade (no bees around). One of them looks like it's recovering, but the other has died back to the roots. I wonder if I should pull it out to check for nematodes or hope that it will grow back in the spring?

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    If you haven't had a frost, there is no normal reason that your Malabar spinach should have died back. In principle, they are perennials. No need to remove the berries. They'll fall off by themselves. You might check for nematodes.

    Serenade is contact fungicide. So it will kill fungus that has landed on the leaves. Once the fungal spores are inside the leaves, it will do no good. Contact fungicides must be used routinely throughout the life of the plant in order to protect it. They are not remedies for an existing infection.

    timetraveler zone 9b Melbourne Beach, Florida thanked daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    2 months ago

    I should have added - if you want Malabar spinach next spring, and you've harvested the purple berries, plant them NOW. The seeds are buried in the berries, and it takes some soil action to break down the husk of the berry. Takes a while. You'll see them coming up when the soil temp is near 70F.

  • dirtygardener
    last month

    Or, when you go to plant them, you can just soak them in water for 24 hours to soften the shell. Mine have always germinated fine like that.

  • sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)
    last month

    Thats what I do as well, soak in hand-hot water overnight, then plant!

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I've soaked them for a few hours. No joy. But maybe a 24-hour soak in warm water will do it. But be aware that they do float, so some stirring and maybe even a drop or two of detergent to improve contact would help.

  • timetraveler zone 9b Melbourne Beach, Florida
    Original Author
    last month

    I bought seeds last spring. I scored them with the side of a nail file and then soaked them overnight in warm water. Planted them in pots and they all came up in a few days. I set out two of the plants and they grew like weeds all summer.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    last month

    Mechanical scarification will always work well, but when I do it with sandpaper I tend to scarify my knuckles and fingers. The seeds are pretty small. Good idea to use a nail file.

  • dirtygardener
    last month

    My malabar spinach is still going strong, blooming away. I'm picking all blooms off now so it will keep putting out leaves. Seeds don't seem to be maturing very quickly.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ10, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    last month
    last modified: last month

    That's an interesting strategy to pick off blooms so it will keep putting out leaves. Now, my malabar spinach never stops putting out leaves but, now that I think about it, my late season leaves are smaller than early season leaves. Picking off blooms might prevent that. I'll try that next year. Goodness knows the stuff puts out vastly more berries/seeds than I'd ever need.

  • Seun
    last month
    last modified: last month

    One of my plants used to get droopy every afternoon. It had large root nodules when I finally uprooted it, indicating the presence of root knot nematodes.

  • four (9B near 9A)
    last month

    In none of the many many recommendations [that we read in many places for many kinds of seeds] of soaking in warm water for long times, does a recommender state the heating device used for continuous water warmth. Stove? Oven? I doubt that all the recommenders have heating pads.