02 June 2016

ailments and losses

Some of my plants have been sickly.
I only have two crassula right now- the big one and a smaller one that is starting to take shape like a stout tree. The pot of many small cuttings I tipped out into the compost because I needed the pot, but I don't need more jade plants. Well, this small one was out on the porch daytimes for a few weeks in nice weather. Then I brought it in during a rainy spell and dismayed it looked like a bad case of spider mites. Sticky webbing stuff and bug droppings all over the top of the plant. I doused it heavily in dishsoap, then realized only the very crown of each stem was affected.
I pinched off all the stem ends, neatly removing most of the problem. Doused the plant with soapy water a few more times. I've kept a close eye on it and no more bugs seem to be returning (it has also stayed indoors since then).
The sweet potato vines also got afflicted. This time it looked like aphids, I could see them- and some leaves looking sickly and curling up. I sank the entire plants, pots and all, into a deep sink full of soapy water for twenty minutes. It was a bit messy, but seemed to get rid of most of the bugs. Then removed the worst leaves, and every day checked the plants for aphids. Upended them under running tap to blast the insects off when I found them. After a week of that they all seem to be gone, although a few leaves are still puckered-looking. I've since planted them out into the railing boxes alongside the nasturtiums.
The rose outside has also been attacked by aphids and some kind of little green caterpillar- from looking at pics I think it is sawfly larvae?
Regardless, they have turned most of the leaves on the base of the plant into nothing but a netting of leaf veins. My youngest helped me pick the caterpillars off -well, I did the picking and she collected them into a jar.
She likes to play with them, and when she's done playing they are usually dead.
We've picked them off three times- each time finding fewer (and the ones that are there, grown bigger so easier to spot). Now the rose seems to be okay- upper leaves remain free of holes, it has some new growth
and lots of buds. (I always wondered why new leaves often have red hues. Recently read in a book that the reddish pigment protects the young leaves from too much sun while they are still tender).
Something is afflicting all the mayapple plants.
It is probably mayapple rust, and I think they will be okay, but it sure looks unsightly right now. One of them is dead because a squirrel dug the entire plant up. Probably to see if I buried something he'd like to eat, when I planted them. Arrgh. Squirrels or chipmunks also dug up the echinacea seedlings I planted out, and into my planters, and more holes in the garden. I sprinkled bonemeal and they have not come back to those planters since. But now I've noticed the pots that got bonemeal have algae crusting the top of the soil, and a strong smell. Well, I don't mind the smell if it keeps the rodents away, but is it harmful?
Some of the tomato plants have curling leaves. I wonder if I overdid it with the bonemeal, or if there is another cause.
Of all the perennials I put into my backyard this spring, the only one that seems to have really failed is the arum. It all wilted away. There's only one or two leaves left (and they don't look healthy) plus this odd spike. I don't know if it will come back.

I neglected some of my seedlings. They lingered a long time in the coldframe house, some of them still in seedling trays, because I was preoccupied with other stuff for a few weeks and didn't pay enough attention to the plants. There was a hot day when I forgot to open the coldhouse door soon enough. Lots of things wilted in the heat.
I lost most of my sage seedlings, only have a few left- some are in bigger pots now, others went into the garden spot.
I lost over half of the violets- the ten remaining plants just got set out around the lilac bush yesterday morning.
I lost most of the echinacea. Only nine left, and when I planted them out a squirrel destroyed a few.
Most of the coleus were okay- I've planted some out into the front yard and have the four nicest ones waiting to go into a pot on the deck (need more potting soil).
The tithonia seedlings died. And the nicotiana, I won't have any of that this year. I still have some celosia seedlings in a tray, not sure what to do with them. If I should move them into individual pots, or prick them out and put straight into the ground...

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