Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beetles and Mildew and Slugs, Oh My . . .

It’s been a tough year for plants. Slugs came with the rainy weather and attacked the hosta. Hot, humid weather followed the rain and powdery mildew appeared on some of the plants. (It was my favorite Monarda in my garden.) Now, the Japanese beetles have arrived – chewing on raspberries and roses (and everything else) from Afton to Wayzata.

And, if that’s not enough to deal with, I discovered a peculiar growth on my Harvest Moon coneflower Sunday morning. I took it to the master gardeners, who said it’s either the eriophyid mite, or the aster yellows virus. If it is the aster yellows virus, the remedy is to dig up the plant and not replace the plant in that location this year. If it’s the microscopic mite, I can treat the plant with a miticide. I dug up the entire plant because all of the cones were affected, and won’t put another coneflower in that spot this year.

I learned that the aster yellows virus is spread by leafhoppers, which are plant-sucking bugs rather than plant-chewing bugs (like the Japanese Beetle). Think mosquito for plants. And, because leafhoppers hop, they can spread the virus from plant to plant.

So, in addition to the daily watering and weeding, I’m on pest patrol – drowning beetles in soapy water, checking hosta for slugs, and spritzing the flowers from the aster family with the miticide (only weekly, though).

What’s bugging your garden?

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