Bug or Fungus Damage?

sun_worshiper(FL 9b)November 25, 2012

I planted a number of my h. striatum seedlings out into my garden this spring. Many have been destroyed over the course of the summer by some sort of disease or bug. Can you help me identify the problem?

The first sign of a problem I see is that leaves start to turn yellow. Close inspection reveals they have rotted at the connection to the bulb and dropped off, despite most of the leaf staying green. Sometimes I see a small amount of what looks like white fungal spores on the soil surface near the bulb.

Digging up the bulb, here is what I find:

The roots and basal plate have been separated from the rest of the bulb, and there is mush in between. However the top of the bulb is still very firm, washed off, it looks like this:

And cutting it in half to look for burrowing insects, I find none:

I have seen no trace of any insect, so I think this is most likely some sort of fungal rot. Only the plants that are in fairly wet soil in nearly full sun seem to display this problem.

Ideas? Is it a fungus? Is there any way to prevent this (aside from the obvious answer of planting in a different spot)?


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I would guess it's rotting from too much moisture not draining away as quickly as it needs to.

If such is the case, I would choose a different location with better drainage, and there are products you can use when planting the bulbs that might help stave off any rot until the bulb got established. Captan by Bonide is a popular anti-fungal in powder form.

I use a small brush to dab the Captan onto the basal plate and around the lower rim... but then, I grow all my bulbs in pots.

I'm no expert, but I would say you need to find a location that doesn't stay quite so wet for long periods of time.

Hope this helps... perhaps others can make different suggestions that would be helpful, or have differing opinions? Anyone?

I wish you the best. :-)

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 2:48PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Angela, that's so sad! I would guess that poor drainage is the issue as well.

Can you amend with sand and granite to improve that spot?

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 3:13PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Thanks a lot for the advise! It helps greatly to know what I'm dealing with.

The planting bed these are in are primarily for fruit trees. I am adding flowers to make it prettier. This particular planting bed gets a lot of volume of runoff water during storms. The soil is very fast draining - I have sugar sand soil, and I actually have to amend it with compost so the edibles get enough nutrients. So adding additional sand wouldn't change anything - it is nearly all sand already.

It is very interesting, I am finding that here in FL that there are some plants that can take quite a lot of moisture if they have a cool root run (here that means shade), but absolutely cannot tolerate hot+damp roots. Hippeastrums seem to be one of them. Another is agapanthus. I have hippis in other spots of my yard that get just as much storm water runnoff, but they are in shade, which seems to make a large difference. This particular one I think was a belated casualty of hurricane Sandy, which dumped quite a lot of rain as it passed.

On the plus side, rain lilies seem to flourish in this location, in fact my candidas are still blooming even this late in the year! They like the periodic drenchings.

I've moved what is left of those seedlings to a spot agapanthus does well in, so hopefully they will do better now. I was worried that if it was an insect that moving them might spread the problem. If it is a drainage problem, then moving them should be safe.

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 3:53PM
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Ooh! Rain Lilies! I just adore them! :-)

Several years ago, a very generous friend in Florida sent me a handful of the pink flowered ones, and I just love how they bloom after a good watering! I have to keep them in a pot, of course, but I just love them! :-)

I think you answered your own question... I would imagine that shade would be a great boon to growing things like Hippeastrum bulbs in sandy soil.

But as I see no bugs or other issues, I would think it safe to move them to a better spot.

I'm trying to think of something that you could aerate the soil with... but actually, with so much sand, anything larger added would just defeat the purpose... like adding sand to a jar of rocks, the sand would just fill in around the rocks, negating any air pockets, or aeration.

Happy to be of help... hope we were! :-)

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 6:27PM
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Separate 2 Scales from one-another, take some of the freshly-revealed mush under a Microscope and retrieve the Culprits, which is Tarsonemid mites
(Bulb-Scale-Mites, Steneotarsonemus laticeps)
Hot-water-treatment during dormancy will help. Re-Infestation from contaminated environment/Soil is likely though.

Regrettably, Display of GardenWeb Forums suffers from unacceptably longlasting LoadingLagPhase, and generally the 1st attempt will produce but a Blank Page. Numerous responses of mine have already been erased by the inability of them programmers, to build a SITE THAT IT LOADS FAST AND RELIABLY so you are lucky IF you find THIS response. I shall not provide further advice as I had DONE IN ABUNDANCE, in the past, yes on THIS issue.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bulb Scale Mite

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 7:05PM
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In that case, you could use a systemic product that will take care of mites, fungal issues, and insects all in one application... Bayer makes a good granular systemic product. I use it on potted and garden grown plants that I'm especially fond of.

Bayer also makes a 3 in 1 spray that accomplishes the same thing, and there are other products available, as well.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 8:55AM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Thank you haweha! I'm glad your post came through. I was not aware of this pest - thanks for giving it a name! I'll go read up on it.

Jodik, if a systemic is the best treatment, then I think moving these was a good call. I don't want to use a systemic around my edible plants, but my shade beds are mostly ornamental, so it would be ok there.

Rain lilies are so happy aren't they! They are like little smiles after a rain storm. I have a yellow variety that seeds readily (citrina). Can't remember offhand, but I think I have a few seeds left that I haven't planted yet if you'd like some. They come true from seed. Send me an email if interested.

Thanks for all the help!


    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 9:39AM
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Thanks for the offer, Angela... it is greatly appreciated! I'll drop you an email.

I have pink and white rain lilies on a windowsill... so enjoyable! I'm amazed by the beauty from such tiny bulbs! They are some of my favorites!

The keys are slowly dying on my ancient keyboard, so I can no longer make the little smiley faces... but I am smiling!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:21PM
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It seems as though neither of us has our email ability engaged here, Angela. It's okay, though... I hope you won't be offended if I pass on seeds right now... I really do appreciate the offer. I just finished scaling down my indoor collection of bulbs, and salvaging what I could from a nasty NBF infestation. It's getting cold my way, also. Perhaps by spring, should you have extra seeds at that time, we could exchange emails, and do a trade or something. I have tons of plant material!

It's not that I'm not interested... the timing is just off for me. Thank you so much, though! Gardeners are the most generous of people!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:32PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Weird, they must have turned off all the emails again, they seem to do that randomly. I went back in and enabled mine again. Thanks for pointing out why I wasn't getting the copies of my threads posted to my email anymore.

Anyhow, totally understand that it is the wrong time of year for planting rain lilies - its why I didn't plant the last couple pods that I harvested. They wouldn't germinate well outdoors now. Anyhow, I get lots of seeds from them all summer long. I am letting them naturalize in large areas of my yard. I'd love to do a seed trade next year, I'm also growing lots of hippi seedlings so I can fill large outdoor planting beds with them eventually. Drop me a line when the weather warms up for you next spring and we can trade then.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:00AM
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Ooh! A naturalized area would look so nice!

I definitely will keep a trade in mind... I have tons of various perennials, roses, shrubs... we have several acres of gardens and beds filled with everything from the earliest spring bulbs, to the latest of items that can tolerate hard frosts! Our main interest is old garden roses and companion plantings... sun, shade, and everything in between.

I'm sure we can come to a likable arrangement! Thanks again! I just sent an email so we can make note of email addresses and a spring or summer trade.

Have a fabulous day!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:09PM
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