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What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

Posted by dtownjbrown 5 or 6 (Im not sure) (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 25, 08 at 19:33

Im new to gardening and planted four 'Magnus' coneflowers in my front yard a little over a week ago. The salesperson at the greenhouse said that they hadnt reached their "season" yet, but that they should start blooming mid-summer. I put them in what I thought was a sunny spot (the front of my house faces south) but now I'm not so sure. The weather has been very mild in Ohio the past couple of weeks and it wasnt until today that the temp even "approached" 80 degrees. On my way out to work this afternoon (just before 3pm) I took a gander at them and noticed some of the plants were missing parts of their leaves, as if something is eating them. Can anyone offer any help?

Here is a layout out of where I planted them.....#4 is showing the worse signs of whatever is happening to them but #3 doesnt look so good either:

[IMG]http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening010edit.jpg[/IMG]

[b][u]These are pics of Plant #4 (why is it drooping like that?):[/b][/u]

[IMG]http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening001.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening004.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening003.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening002.jpg[/IMG]

[b][u]These are pics of Plant #3 (I think I might have this one to far under my evergreens but would that explaing the "eating" pattern on the leaves?):[/b][/u]

[IMG]http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening006.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening007.jpg[/IMG]

[b][u]Plant #1 is only affected on one leave so far:[/b][/u]

[IMG]http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening005.jpg[/IMG]


Follow-Up Postings:

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Oops, my links didnt work

Oops, the links to my pics didnt work (sorry about that, Im very new to the forum). I'll try that again...

GARDEN LAYOUT
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening010edit.jpg

PLANT #4
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening001.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening004.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening003.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening002.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening001.jpg

PLANT #3
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening006.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening007.jpg

PLANT #1
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q179/dtownjbrown/gardening/Gardening005.jpg


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

Something definitely is eating them. I suspect some type of worm. Leafhoppers usually eat around the edges only. Your plants seriously need to be watered. Get some of that Garden Safe insect spray at Wal-Mart and spray them this evening. That will stop the bugs from eating them. Spray them per the instructions. Your plants are going to need to be watered regularly until the perk up. I hope you have better luck with them. A sick coneflower is an ugly plant for sure!


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 25, 08 at 21:08

I'd rather know what I'm targeting rather than guess. The way to do that if you aren't finding pests present in the daytime is to go out at night after dark with a flashlight and look.

Slugs, snails can quickly do a lot of damage to coneflowers here, and just one or two climbing cutworms can consume an amazing amount of leaf material in very short order. Take your oldest pruners out with you on your flashlight trips, snip those in half. For slugs, fill a spray bottle with 1/4 household ammonia to 3/4 water and spritz right on the slug (won't hurt the plant)...dead in a heartbeat.

If you find a pest that can't easily be controlled by hand, then consider spraying.


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

[QUOTE] - The way to do that if you aren't finding pests present in the daytime is to go out at night after dark with a flashlight and look - [Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast]

You know what, Ive been seeing ALOT of flies around in the daytime but I just figured they were hanging around because my garden soil is practically 100% Compost & Manure. Could they be eating my plants? Funny thing is though....I planted have three 'Becky' Shasta Daisy plants on the same day in the same spot but their leaves arent eaten at all. Does that seem "right"?


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 25, 08 at 23:00

No, the flies aren't eating your plants.


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

No offense morz8, but I can't see staying outside with a flashlight all night waiting for the bugs to show up. A general insecticide spray will take care of slugs and any other varmints that might come out to play at night. I sprayed mine and those suckers are dead now!


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Still Trying To Post Pics

Im still trying to figure out how to post my pics. Hopefully, Ive gotten it right this time.........

Photobucket

Photobucket

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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

Look at some of the pictures toward the bottom of this page (link below) of diseased coneflowers. It's hard to tell with some of your photos being so small, but in that large picture it looks different than what I saw earlier. That photo looks like Sclerotinia Stem and Root Rot to me. I have had a few plants have that before and they died. I can't be 100% sure from looking at these photos though. I've seen insect damage that looks a lot like this. The thing that makes me wonder is the wilted appearance of your plants. This wouldn't happen just from insects eating the leaves. That is a sign of a root problem. I bet if you dug one of these up you'd see that the roots are not very strong.

Have you had a lot of rain in the past month or did you water these a lot before they wilted? The best way to kill a coneflower is to give them too much water.

Here is a link that might be useful: Diseases of Echinaceas


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RE: How much water is too much water?

[quote] - Have you had a lot of rain in the past month or did you water these a lot before they wilted? The best way to kill a coneflower is to give them too much water. [Posted by echinaceamaniac]

How much water is too much water for an echinacea?

Is there anything I can do to "save" them or is it already too late? :-(

I watered them once a day for about three days when I first planted them (hoping to "establish" the roots) but I havent watered them in almost a week since then. We made have had one HARD rain since I put them in the ground. I bought 5 of them at the greenhouse in order to get a discount so I have one more plant that I havent put into the ground yet. I didnt water that one as much as the other four because I hadn't planted it yet. I'll check it to see if it's leaves are doing the same thing.


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 26, 08 at 12:51

Echinaceamaniac, I wasn't suggesting dtown spend the night in the garden. Those night feeders normally emerge shortly after dusk (hungry after about 15 hrs of hiding during daylight hours), if not found the first trip out, they will almost certainly be there the second time checked.

Total of a few minutes, not a new idea, and viewing the garden after dark can be very informative.


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RE: A slight change

I went out to check the "other" plant and things arent looking good.....I guess I should have been watering more (will post pics later, after Ive gotten a chance to upload them onto my computer).

However, two of the plants I posted about yesterday arent "as" wilted as they were yesterday. It's a different time and the sun isnt hitting them directly right now, but there has definitely been a slight change (and I hadnt even watered them yet). Could this be something that could be used to further diagnose my problem?

I will post pics later today, after Ive gotten a chance to upload them onto my computer


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

I agree with Morz. You should definitely see if your culprit is noctural. For me, it's always earwigs and/or Asian beetles all over the coneflowers.


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RE: Nocturnal Eaters

Going out at night wont be a problem for me, I work until 11pm. I'll go out tonight (and take some pics). What type of remedies can I use to get rid of earwigs...or asian beetles...or slugs...or snails?

A big THANK YOU to everyone :-)


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RE: remedies

You won't like my answer..I handpick the earwigs & beetles or knock them into a bucket of soapy water. Earwigs can be trapped too..you can place rolled up newspapers and they'll hide there in the daytime. I'm sure you can get more remedies once you know what you're dealing with. Happy hunting..


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

I'm sorry morz8. I was joking around. I knew what you meant. I was just thinking spraying would kill most just about any insect that might attack.

Either these plants are not being watered enough and are wilting with bugs eating them or they have a serious fungus infection and are being watered too much. The problem is these plants wilt in both cases. It is very difficult to know what kind of conditions are involved here. The soil did look very dry to me in the photos.


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

  • Posted by nancyd 5/Rochester, NY (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 26, 08 at 15:07

All good advice. If it were my plant, I'd remove the infected leaves and spray with an insecticidal oil first. It works by smothering the insect. Oil is less toxic than most chemicals, but still harmful to beneficial insects, so whatever you use spray at dusk to avoid harming butterflies and bees.


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RE: Pictures from earlier today

Here are the pics I took when I "followed-up" on my coneflowers this afternoon. They weren't as wilted as they were yesterday and I hadnt even watered them yet but I went ahead and watered them anyway. It's POURING down rainin goutside right now, so I really hope they weren't wilting due to over watering. Also, I noticed some "other" leaf abnormalities & took some pics (just in case they might help someone figure out what Im dealing with here). Thanks :-)

The "droopy" one that's not so droppy today:
Photobucket

The "curled" over one that's less curly:
Photobucket

A "yellow" leaf on the only un-eaten plant:
Photobucket

A "spotted" leaf on the only un-eaten plant:
Photobucket

Black spot on the underside of the only un-eaten plant:
Photobucket

The "forgotten" one that I didnt plant in the ground:
Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

I think you've eliminated that root fungus problem. If it was that, watering them would not make them perk up like that. They would be dead very soon. It looks like the problem has to do with an unknown insect and lack of watering. Some of the damage looks like leafhoppers. Some of it looks like what slugs do to plants. It could be more than one insect. Have you seen slugs there recently?

Consider removing the very damaged leaves. Put them in something and take them away from your growing area. Some of your plants look really good to me other than the leaves being bitten on by insects. Get you some spray for your plants. I use that Garden Safe spray from Wal-mart on mine. If you have seen slugs around, put out some of that slug bait. That worked for me too. Once you get these plants growing and the roots take hold, you won't have to keep babying them. These things will be tough next year!

I am so glad to see these new photos because it means your plants have a good chance! If you keep that forgotten one watered for a few days you can probably save it!

If you ever water a coneflower that's wilted and it doesn't straighten up over night, you can bet that plant is going to die soon.


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RE: Night-time Eaters

Well, I went into the garden tonight and saw "something" eating my leaves (little mother-trucker). I didnt think I would see anything after the terrential downpour we just had a couple hours ago but I went out with my flashlight anyway.....and sure enough, I saw it.

I dont know what it was but it looked like what we used to call "pill" bugs when I was younger. It was a kinda dark grey and a little shiny. It had lots of legs all around the perimeter of its tiny body. I took a couple of pics but they didnt come out to good (I will post them tomorrow after I use photoshop to make them a little clearer). Anyway, I plucked it from its midnight snack and put it in a plastic cup of liquid hand soap and water......then it did the darndest thing - it rolled itself up into a little ball that really HARD when I shook it around in the cup. Actually, it looked alot like a peppercorn or a piece of whole allspice. It hasnt unraveled itself yet, so Im not sure if it's dead but I was hoping that this little blow-by-blow description might help someone tell me what Ive "caught".

Thanks Again (xoxo),

jb


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RE: More Pics

Okay, so here is the pic I promised (from last night's garden "hunt"................

Photobucket

The leaf-eating culprit was kinda hard to see, so I used photoshop to zoom in on him......

Photobucket

I edited the pic once more for clarity. He really wasnt this dark a shade of grey but I think this edit makes his legs more visible.....

Photobucket

So....what is this thing? It thought it was a pill bug but when I read up on it on the internet, it seems that pill bugs only eat dead or decaying plants and my echinacea's are just recently planted and havent even started to bloom yet. I read somewhere that "sowbugs" are often confused with "pillbugs" but couldnt find anyting on them in regards to what they eat or if they prefer echinacea plants over shasta daisy plants (my Shatas are "untouched" with no holes in their leaves). Can someone tell me what I can do to get rid of these things? Thanks :-)

Oh, by the way - my "forgotten" plant is looking so much better after I watered it yesterday. I took it out of the sun so it didnt get as much rain as the ones in my garden did but things are really looking promising. The pics on the left are BEFORE water and the ones on the right are AFTER water.....

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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

Gross. That thing is ugly. I hope you can get rid of it. It does look a lot like those sow bugs. I know it said they feed on mostly dead plants, but your plant was looking like it was getting close to death. I think they are going to make it for sure. It's time to kill those bugs though!

Your plants will be so much stronger next year!


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 27, 08 at 22:19

Sow bug, pill bug, I'm not sure there's a difference...we called them potato bugs when we were kids but I couldn't tell you why....I don't remember :)

While usually more of a green house pest than garden pest (injurious to seedlings as well as decaying plant material), you seem to have some hungry enough they are feeding on your stressed (need water) plants (- that points to large numbers of them to me).

I think it would help if you could clean up leaf and needle debris under the plants behind your coneflowers, I suspect you may have large numbers of the pill bugs there where they are cool and protected during the day. I had a heck of a time with them one year only - I was letting a little rapidly spreading 1" sedum fill in around perennials thinking it made nice groundcover, when what it was making was pill bug habitat. Removing the sedum solved the problem.

There is also a flake/granular type bait available, should have a picture of the insects it targets on the container and may be called something like cutworm-pillbug-earwig bait. I'm sure not pet friendly though, and my guess is eliminating their hiding places should take care of them.
You could compost the leaf litter/needle debris and return it to your garden later, let it decompose someplace else for now.


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RE: Thanks Morz8

You know what, that makes since because the only ones that are being eaten are the ones close to my evergreens. The pic below shows how I have the plants "layed-out" I guess you could say......Plant #2 is mostly unfazed (maybe just a single bite or two but I'll double check it tomorrow). So, I should clean underneath my evergreens, lay compost down under my evergreens and things should be fine? Or should I clean, compost, and lay bait?

Thanks, jb

Photobucket


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 28, 08 at 9:44

I think you may find they leave on their own (or dry up and die on their own) once you've removed any plant debris.
Finished compost doesn't seem to attract them, I top dress my own beds with finished compost every Spring.

Try the clean up first, you may not have to buy bait. Let us know how things turn out....


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Finished Compost????

What is "finished" compost? Is it a special type of compost or just the name of a certain brand?


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 29, 08 at 11:04

jb, finished refers more to the age. Most of the decomposition has taken place, the resulting compost material is dark in color and has an earthy smell (like the smell of soil). Usually, it's difficult to recognize any of the original ingredients - the plant remains that would attract pests like sow/pill bugs - as they are too far decomposed to be of interest to pests.

If you were thinking of buying a bagged product, Home Depot here has a steer manure blend - aged wood chips and aged steer manure - that is composted (finished) well enough it has no 'poop' smell :), and no rocks or weed seeds that I've found....$1 cu ft bag. Dry and easy to spread.


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RE: What could be doing this to my Coneflowers?

My understanding of pillbugs is that they usually eat dead or dying plant material, so maybe the fact that the plants are stressed are what's attracting them. They also eat the egg sacks of harmful insects like stinkbugs, so you probably don't want to get rid of them completely. I have lots of them in my shade beds and have never had a problem with them. Most of the damage looks like slug damage to me. There are slug baits that use iron phosphate that kill only slugs and snails and leave the good insects alone (a problem with a lot of "general purpose" sprays). They come as pellets that you sprinkle on the ground around the plants, they don't have to be reapplied after every rain, and they aren't harmful to pets or wildlife. I used them around my hostas last year and this spring, and they worked great; I have seen far fewer slugs this year in spite of a very wet spring/summer. Good luck!


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