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Green thumbs up
to asking for help now regarding last year's mystery problems,
via photo or description posted on the Forum. (As a for-instance, look how easy it is to
get a name for that weed so you can empower your curses!) If
you wait until spring, help may be slower to come because everyone
Problems that are new to us usually catch our eye only when they
have progressed to advanced stages, when the time for fixes has
passed for that year. So we learn each winter what those new insect
or disease issues were and can act in spring when there's time to
head them off before they do much damage.
Green thumbs down
to the dilemma that results when family members evict our
perennial roots from the refrigerator crisper drawer as "sprouts
gone bad." We don't want to discourage others from taking the
initiative on 'fridge cleaning now and then. Yet, drat their
timing, as those perennial divisions were only going to be in there
a few days more until we could break ground and tuck them in.
Below: Now, really. Do these look like bean sprouts gone
bad, or celery gone limp? The neatnik who tossed these bare roots
of turtlehead (Chelone
obliqua, left) and queen of the prairie
(Filipendula rubra, right) probably never even opened the
plastic bag and parted the moist paper toweling to take a whiff or
a feel to determine they were rotted. Ah well, we won't make them
feel bad by telling them these plants are endangered (turtlehead)
and threatened (Filipendula) species...
We're glad B.W. took the photos below (©2009 care of this
website), especially the one on the right, which caught the
proboscis of one of the bugs and is a giveaway as a weevil
With the notion of "weevil" to go on, a leaden gray color and
the name of its host plant, we can search references for malva
weevil, hibiscus weevil, hollyhock weevil, etc. From reports of the
damage and images of the insect we come eventually, to the pest's
scientific name. That name's the key to lots of information.
Aspidapion radiolus is a hollyhock weevil. The first
generation of the year begins snipping edges of leaves, flower buds
and seed pods in June and increases its numbers right through into
fall so the plants can lose a lot of greenery. Seems to prefer
hollyhocks and the low, weedy malva called "cheeses" over other
members of the family.
It's not life threatening but putting the brakes on the weevil
population growth is a good idea if you'd like to keep your plants
looking good longer into summer. The eggs develop inside seed pods,
so keep the plant deadheaded to interrupt that cycle.
Below, left, fireblight can cause a cherry or peach branch
to go suddenly dark, just as new growth is most lush.
Below, right: Four-lined plant bug makes distinctive
pockmarks on mint, other members of the mint family and a great
number of other plants. Damage is almost always concentrated on
top, new foliage. Fortunately, this bug causes only cosmetic -- if
infuriatingly ugly -- damage. It also tends to occur in boom-bust
cycles. A year of heavy damage may be followed by several that are
Have a mystery of your own to solve?
Post it here at the Forum for diagnosis - if
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Help us keep
We want to stay current on this season's questions, keep
learning more, and write new articles... yet there is a great deal
from our archives yet to post. For instance, we have written about
four-lined plant bug and fireblight before. Those articles are not
yet posted because there were many others ahead of them which are
not available anywhere else. (For information about fireblight and
four-lined plant bug , see our CDs Asking
About Asters and Potting Up Perennials; the index of
either one will take you to several in-depth articles.)
So, this team of two can use your help. We have about 900 pages
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