Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Diagnostics or Ewww, what’s THAT?
We’ve officially crossed into summer! Wahoo for that. Of course, that means bugs (be it insect or disease) and weeds are coming in with abandon. I think the toughest part of gardening is trying to figure out why a plant isn’t thriving! Is it an insect, is it a disease, are my plants getting the nutrients they need? Enough water, too much water? Maybe this particular plant doesn’t like afternoon sun or one day you’re looking down on something that makes you go “eeewww, what’s that?” I know enough to know that I will be forever learning. Especially when it comes to diagnostics.
Here are some questions that a Master Gardener might ask of you to find out what’s wrong with your plant?
- Exactly what kind of plant is it? (may sound easy but some folks don’t know)
- Is it growing in the right conditions? Are it’s requirements being met?
- Compared to a healthy plant, what is wrong with yours?
- If the leaves are brown or yellowed, are they crispy or flexible?
- Do you see signs of insects?
- Are there brown spots on the leaves? If so, are they round or random?
Oftentimes there is more than 1 reason a plant is not doing well. In trees, it can take years to show decline. Weather conditions play a huge role in issues with large plants!
What’s Wrong With My Plant [University of MN Extension diagnostics]
Plant Disease diagnostic clinic [Cornell University]
And here’s a twist for you:
I had planted 3 lilacs in a row. Two were doing great but the third one had 2 branches dying. I could not figure out what was wrong. Upon further research (getting down on the ground and crawling underneath it) I found that a white wire with flag used to identify a new planting (so you don’t mow it over) killed 2 branches of one of my lilacs. Apparently “someone” got too close to the shrub with the weed whip and wound that wire completely around 2 branches essentially choking them to death. It took about a year and a half to kill them.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it! This happened years ago when I wasn’t documenting so much!
Chemical damage can also kill: