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Identifying Problems of Garden Flowers

Identifying Problems of Garden Flowers

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Published by: Oxony20 on Dec 28, 2012
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SP 370-K
Identifying Problems of Garden Flowers
 Elizabeth A. Long, Associate Extension Specialist  Entomology and Plant Pathology
Agricultural Extension Service
The University of Tennessee
There are many causes of garden flower and pe-rennial landscape plant problems, and a number of these problems can appear to have the same symp-toms on the plant.To identify the cause of the plant’s problem, it isusually necessary to look at the plant closely; examinethe flowers, leaves, stem and (sometimes) the roots;and do some detective work to determine possiblecauses. Often the process of elimination of the pos-sible causes will lead to the identification of the prob-lem. Once the cause is correctly identified, correctivemeasures can be taken to eliminate or reduce theproblem.Additional suggestions for determining plantproblems can be found in the fact sheet “Check YourOrnamental Plants,” SP 370-H. Representative plantsamples can also be sent to the UT Extension Diag-nostic Lab in Nashville. Contact your local countyExtension personnel for assistance in sending samplesto the UT Lab.The following chart deals with some possiblecauses for the most common plant problems of an-nual, biennial and perennial flowers in the home yard.The plant symptoms are divided into 1) problemsmainly on flowers; 2) problems confined to theleaves; and 3) problems that affect the entire plant.Under each of these three categories there aresymptom descriptions with a list of possible causesand corrective measures that can be taken. Becausethere are a large number of similar pesticides undervarious brand names that can be used for control, nospecific pesticides are listed in the chart.Each county has a local UT Extension office withpersonnel who can assist in choosing the correct cul-tural control method or pesticide to control specificinsect and disease problems.
Table 1. Problem Occurs Mainly on the Flowers
Plants fail to flower;Wrong seasonSome plants have specific day-length require-foliage looks healthyments for floweringLow temperatures, freeze injuryLow temperature injury may damage flower budsInsufficient lightDo not plant sun-loving plants in shadeToo much nitrogenDo not over fertilize as too much nitrogenstimulates foliage, not flower, production;follow soil test recommendationsOvercrowded plantsDivide perennials at recommended time of yearImmature plantsBiennials and perennials often do not flowerthe first year; peony may not flower forseveral yearsUndersize bulbsToo many small flowersPlants not debuddedSome flowers, e.g. chrysanthemum, need tohave some buds removed to produce large flowersFlowers wilt or fail to open;Botrytis gray moldPick off and destroy affected flowers tograyish mold appears on(fungal disease)remove a source of disease; keep water offlowers and leaves in moistfoliage or water early in evening so foliageweather conditionswill dry before nightfall; use a registered fungicideFlowers distorted andThrips; small tannish yellowUse registered insecticideabnormally coloredor brown wedge shaped insectsmainly found inside flower petalsRosetting of florets; ringVirus diseaseDestroy affected plants; insect control maypattern on leaves; yellow(any of several)reduce virus spread to non-infected plantsand light green mosaicor mottleLight green, yellow orSpider mites; Tiny 8-leggedHard blast of water on underside of leaves;white flecks on leavesspiderswith webbing oninsecticidal soap or horticultural oil or use aunderside of leavesregistered miticide (insecticide for spidermites) on underside of leaves
Table 2. Problem Mostly Confined to Leaves
Corky, raised spots on lowerOedema, a physiologicalDo not overwater; space plants to increaseleaf surfacesproblem usually associatedair movement around plants, esp. geranium;with excess humiditythinning foliage may help reduce humidityBrown, dead areas on outsideScorch, due to hot, drySupply water by soaker hose; mulch plants;margins of leaves and/orweather conditions or newlycan also occur on plants divided and movedbetween leaf veinstransplanted plantsat wrong time of yearSevere nutrient deficiencySoil test and follow fertilizationrecommendationsChemical injuryCheck for pesticides used in area of affectedplants; follow pesticide label directionsSalt injuryDo not salt iced sidewalks where water willrun off into plant bedsAnthracnose leaf blightCut and remove diseased foliage in late fall(fungal disease)or early spring to remove source of disease.Avoid overhead watering or water so thatleaves dry before nightfall. Use recommendedfungicide sprays for leaf spots.Sun scald &winter sunburnMainly occurs on evergreen plants such asas foliage dries when rootsmagnolia and rhododendron during the winter.cannot take up enough water toNew foliage will be fine. Can use an anti-keep foliage alivedesiccant on foliage to help it retain moisture.Bleached leavesSunburnMove plant under shade; use only sun lovingplants in areas with full sun; Moving plantsfrom shade (or from inside house) immedi-ately to intense sunlight will cause sunburn;move plants gradually from one light intensitylevel to another to acclimate them slowly.Brown, purple or black deadFungal, bacterial or leafSubmit leaf sample for laboratory diagnosiscircular or irregular spotsnematode diseaseon leaves(any of several)Grayish-white powderyPowdery mildewUse registered fungicide; buy resistant varietiesgrowth on leaves, stems(fungal disease)of plantsand flowersPustules containing orange,RustUse registered fungicide; destroy infected plantsyellow or brown powdery(fungal disease)substance on leavesLeaves wilt, turn yellowRoot rotMany perennials will not tolerate poorlyand/or drop; roots decayed(any of several)drained soils; check cultural conditions; submitsample with roots and soil for laboratory diagnosis

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