Insects in dried rose petals

nenadrew(7b MS)May 8, 2003

Last year was my first real attempt at drying herbs and flowers. The results were somewhat mixed, but I'm still experimenting and was so glad to find this forum.

I saved lots of rose petals last summer, tossing them into an open basket and stirring through them every day until they were completely dry; after that they were stored in a large plastic bin with a tight lid. In the fall I opened the bin to make potpourri and found all my lovely petals had been eaten to pieces!

Though I went through them virtually petal by petal, shook them in a strainer and examined them with a magnifying glass, I never found the culprit. Every petal was riddled with pin-prick sized holes and the bottom of the bin was covered with tiny black dots (frass?). Out of roughly 3 gallons of roses I was not left with one usable petal. Broke my heart.

Now my roses are blooming again and I'm collecting petals, but I certainly don't want a repeat of last year's disaster. Any words of wisdom on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Nena

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Josh(z8a)

Nena, do you think storing them with mothballs would help? Also, you might try posting over on the Herb Forum as I think there are herbs which deter (kill?) insects. We could add a few of these to our storage boxes. Hope you find an answer & if so hope you will post it here. I've never experienced any problem but would like to know how to prevent it...jo

    Bookmark   May 12, 2003 at 6:00AM
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Josh(z8a)

Good Grief! I just realized mothballs would destroy the lovely rose scent! I dry mostly foliage, berries & seedpods so I was really thinking what might be lurking in all my stuff! Anyway, forget mothballs and forgive my jumping in without thinking! But do let us know what you find out...jo

    Bookmark   May 12, 2003 at 7:14AM
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Josh(z8a)

Nena, I found some info on protecting dried material from insects. Hope this will be more helpful. jo

Here is a link that might be useful: Pest Prevention

    Bookmark   May 15, 2003 at 1:37AM
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nenadrew(7b MS)

Jo, I read your second message while still trying to conjure an olfactory image of mothballed roses and had to smile.

Thanks for the article; I'll bet that moth is the very thing that ate my petals. I try to carefully check what I bring in from the garden, even rinsing any flowers that haven't faded to the falling-apart stage. Still, it's not really practical to think I can always thoroughly examine every petal in a basketful of blooms. Pesticide strips would be a perfect solution if the scent isn't too strong.

Your help is much appreciated. I'll be at Lowe's this weekend trying to find some pesticide strips to sniff and will post a follow-up to let you know what I found.

Thanks again!

Nena

    Bookmark   May 15, 2003 at 5:15AM
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Josh(z8a)

Still thinking about this...I have bowls and vases of strange pods/cones/seed capsules/ grasses of all kinds (some from Australia and the tropics).

I was wondering about Pyrethrum Daisies...might they be an effective deterrent if they were dried and tucked into our arrangements?

I'm getting leery of opening my many stored items...some not even in plastic airtight bags, just cardboard boxes.

I did run across the advice to either freeze at zero degrees overnight, or put in 140-degree F oven for 4-5 hours to kill insect larva, but either method I think would ruin your rose petals, and possibly also my seed cases. Still researching...jo

    Bookmark   May 18, 2003 at 8:26AM
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Josh(z8a)

Here's the article I referred to regarding freezer or oven techniques. After re-reading, I see that I misquoted directions. Sorry! So even though not useful for you I wanted to correct my second (!!!) mistake on this post..jo

Here is a link that might be useful: Insects in Dried Materials

    Bookmark   May 18, 2003 at 8:37AM
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karlin(east tn)

I too have been drying roses for years and have experienced the same insect infestation after all that hard work. I think it's a tiny worm doing the eating. I've seen these tiny worms on the roses in the garden, and the after effects of the dried ones are just pulverized, but with some sort of sticky looking stuff which could be castings of the tiny worm. Eewww! I think it's much too wet this year to try to dry roses, unless you have silica sand which is hard to find, but I'm trying to dry some rosebuds just the same. We'll see what happens! Wish me luck.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2003 at 4:51AM
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nenadrew(7b MS)

Well, hubby brought home some pesticide strips but they smell a little strong to me. If it ever quits raining I'll cut some more roses and experiment with the freezing/heating just to see what it does to the petals.

Karlin, you are probably right about those tiny worms. They are very hard to spot, but I did see one just the other day. Wonder if Bt works against them? Caterpillars of various sorts are taking a heavy toll on my plants right now, mostly forest tent caterpillars and catalpa worms (though I think the catalpa worms are only supposed to eat catalpa leaves they have unfortunately developed quite a taste for my garden.) I've sprayed Bt twice lately but that only seems to bring on a downpour. I'm glad for the rain, just hope there's something left growing by the time it quits.

Has anyone else tried the freezing or oven methods yet? Would love to hear about it.

Nena

    Bookmark   May 20, 2003 at 11:05AM
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chinacat_sunflower(7)

my answer to bugs in general is to wave wormwood in their ugly little faces...but might you try like a sticky trap, like the one they use for house bugs?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2003 at 1:18PM
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bekiboutique(4 IA)

I have had fairly good luck putting dried spices in with my dried roses. I dry them by hanging them in my square dehydrator with all but ome shelf removed. I replaced the top mesh with harware cloth and clip them with a clothes pin. The dried spices would leave an odor, but I didn't find cinnamon, cloves or whatever objectional. I used expired spices. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2003 at 4:38PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

I have recommended the freezing method for killing weevils and other bugs in dried seed for years. Don't know why it would not work on other dried plant parts. Do take note tho that there will be some condensation on the petals/plant parts if taken to thaw in more humid environemnt and you might need a day to dry them out again for any of you in the really humid climates of midwest and southeast (obviously that's not huge problem here in Colorado).

    Bookmark   June 7, 2003 at 11:53AM
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nenadrew(7b MS)

Thought I would resurrect this just to see if anyone else is making progress on this problem. I've already had to toss one big basketful of rose petals this summer (the ones I started collecting before posting here.) I'm experimenting with freezing, but haven't thawed any yet to check the results.

Every flower that comes into the house now goes straight to the kitchen sink for a thorough spraying. After the petals are dried I flash-freeze on a cookie sheet and store them in an air tight container in the freezer. The thermometer registers just below zero in there, so we'll see.

Whatever this petal-eating critter is, it apparently prefers roses. I've got air-dried gromphrena, hydrangea, and gardenias from last year and the year before, stored in clear plastic bins, with no sign of damage.

I'll have to choose my moment carefully for thawing these frozen petals to minimize the ambient humidity. It's always humid in MS to some degree, but we've had SO much rain this year - even with the a/c going full blast I get moisture on the top of the salt shaker.

Just thought I'd check in. Anyone else experimenting?

Nena

    Bookmark   August 13, 2003 at 10:38AM
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