Wednesday, June 23, 2021

What happened here?

As we transition from spring to summer, I've done a round of general clean-up in the garden.  Not that gardens here are ever really prepared for what summer's going to throw at them but I felt mine was at least looking fairly tidy.  Then, I saw this:

The leaves of this Yucca 'Blue Boy' were encrusted with dried honeydew

I assumed that insects of some kind were responsible for the damage but I was unable to detect any sign of the culprits.  My attempt to remedy the situation using the hose's jet spray failed to make a difference and a couple of days later I noticed that my largest Yucca 'Blue Boy' was showing signs of the same problem.

These are the two largest 'Blue Boy' Yuccas in a bed that contains a total of five

Internet sources generally attribute leaf damage on yuccas to soft scale, mealybugs, or two-spotted mites.  Given the crust of what appears to be honeydew excretions and the fact that I couldn't see anything that resembles a mealybug, I guessed the first was the most likely cause.  I removed what I could with another jet spray treatment, wiped the affected leaves with alcohol, and sprayed with insecticidal soap for good measure.  Then, because I couldn't stand the look of them, I trimmed the affected leaves.

I'm hoping the plants will outgrow the disfigured leaves but I'm a little nervous they may not.  I'm going to spray all the Yuccas here with neem oil in an effort to prevent any spread to the plants that aren't already affected.

One of my smaller 'Blue Boys' had a problem of another sort.

I think the white material surrounding the plant's base may be what's commonly known as dog vomit slime mold, which showed up in other areas of my garden last summer

Fortunately, that was easy to resolve with no apparent harm to the plant.

Last week's heat cooked the mold and it was relatively easy to remove

I think of Yuccas as tough plants but no plant is actually care free, is it?

On a more positive note, summer blooms are starting to arrive on the scene.  I don't have any dahlia flowers yet but I have ten sprouted plants so I can hope for flowers within the next couple of months.  Meanwhile, other plants are standing in the wings, readying themselves to take the stage.

At last, I have my first Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) bloom of the year, as well as many more buds

I used a few ruffled Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) in an arrangement this week and there are plenty of buds ready to take-off

One noID lily bloomed earlier this month but I've got 6 lily tree plants with buds.  I haven't had much luck with lilies in the past but the fact that the bulbs are preparing to bloom after a year of very low rainfall is a positive sign.

Hopefully, the good moments will balance the bad ones this summer.


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


24 comments:

  1. Ouch! The damage to Yucca 'Blue Boy' is heart breaking! It's going to take a while to outgrow.

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    1. It's frustrating and unexpected but I should have been more attentive. I toyed with replanting the area occupied by the yuccas and succulents with something simple like Gazanias. If the treatments don't work and more plants become infected, I may end up going with plan B :(

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  2. Today I saw leaves from my Amaryllis belladonna, which have sulked thru our drought ever since we moved here! Maybe I will get flowers again next March??

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    1. It took my Amaryllis belladonna a few years to settle in, Diana. They bloomed well last year but, given this year's limited rainfall, I fear they may not bloom this summer even though the foliage was plentiful this winter.

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  3. That's a shame about the insect damage, because otherwise the color and growth habit of the yuccas is great. Maybe I should try neem oil to keep the aphids off the tree aloes too...

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    1. I hate using sprays of any kind but neem oil isn't supposed to be as bad as most. In this case, it's supposed to be most effective when the soft scales are in their early development phase so action now may have limited impact.

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  4. It's always something in the garden, isn't it? I hope your yucca recovers. I was just out picking slugs off my marigold starts, some have been eaten down to nubs, so frustrating! Rabbits, deer and slugs, oh my!

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    1. The tiny invaders are hard to spot until the damage becomes visible but I should have noticed it earlier. The rabbits are still here too, although I did find a dead one in my cutting garden a couple of weeks ago. If coyotes (or other predators) kill them, it'd be considerate if they'd haul the bodies elsewhere...

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    2. Maybe they were 'interrupted' before they could consume it. Kind of gross to come across, I expect. Yet, one less rabbit to chew the Daucus!

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    3. The rabbits focus on low-growing plants and, thankfully, the Daucus flowers are too tall for them to get to, Eliza! The dead rabbit was upsetting - that was the one time I asked my husband to remove the body when I've found a dead creature in the garden.

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  5. Hope it outgrows the damage very soon. Mind you we've had a similar problem here when we had this yucca, which I've always thought was a difficult customer

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    1. I had issues with this Yucca years ago when I first tried it as well. I pulled out one that I thought had been afflicted by a yucca weevil. Since I removed it, I periodically see baby yuccas appear - it wants to survive!

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  6. So discouraging when a pest ruins the show. Hopefully the yucca will outgrow it. We are getting rain today. Yeah! as we are in the middle of an extreme heat wave. Having seen how your plants respond to heat and drought I have an idea of what to expect.

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    1. Congratulations on the rain, Elaine! These days my happiest times in the garden are when it rains (which of course means long stretches of less than completely happy times here). My rain barrels have been empty for some time now.

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  7. Oh no! Your Yucca 'Blue Boy' are (were?) among the most beautiful examples of this plant that I've ever seen.

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  8. Insect pests can be a real pain when they go after a favorite plant. Hope the damage is temporary.

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    1. The largest plant produced two offsets I was able to transplant so maybe I can at least get more of those if the mother plant doesn't outgrow its current marred condition.

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  9. Hi Kris .. I am so sorry you are having a problem with your beautiful yucca plants .. I find neem oil very handy for a variety of problems. I think it should help out a wee bit at least. I laughed out loud over the name of the mold, "dog vomit' ? LOL .. who ever coined that has to have a sense of humour indeed. I think all plants have a weakness but certainly some more than others .. I actually have too many clematis and I am thinking of getting shut of a couple .. too bad you aren't my neighbor or you could have a few ? LOL .. You may be surprised with how much they can put up with. I'm sure you will have good luck .. just dip your toe in and try them out again.
    That blue of Fuji is amazing to me no matter how often I see it. I have to try agapanthus some time, they look gorgeous !

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    1. The mold usually looks more clearly like dog vomit than it did on this occasion, although it was clearly a mold or fungus of some kind. As I pulled it up, it more closely resembled am overcooked marshmallow ;)

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  10. Such a pretty Yucca--sorry to see it get damaged.

    I've given up on Lisianthus--they just don't thrive here. Will enjoy the photos of yours instead.

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    1. The Lisianthus plugs I got clearly struggled to establish here this year. I'm blaming that mostly on the lack of rain, even though I tried to be mindful about giving them extra water. At best, they're short-lived here, lasting no more than 2 years in most cases.

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  11. So excited to see your Lisianthus gearing up! Hope your yucca makes it. They are tough. We lived at our former very shady house 27 years and when we moved in there was a yucca planted near the top of the driveway. After living there twenty years Hurricane Fran passed through and took down trees. The yucca bloomed for the first time after that.

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    1. Yes, Yuccas are tough as your story proves. I don't expect the sap-sucking insects will take the plants down but they may disfigure them badly enough to convince me to let them go.

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