The Four Letter Word Hits My Garden

mikescMay 29, 2012

This has been some two weeks for me, and I seek your advice regarding RUST on my daylilies.

Two weeks ago I took my camera to the woods, which I do frequently, and I got off the trail and headed toward a beaver dam. I went through some heavy brush, which I've done a million times, and as I ducked under a canopy of vines I emerged and ran right into a tree and a little nub where a branch had broken pasted me right in the left eye. It was excruciating, and I had to drive myself to the ER. For a week I pretty much avoided the light and stayed indoors. A few days ago I finally felt like going out and looking at the flowers closely.

To my horror, what I thought was just simple leaf streak on my daylilies two weeks ago is rust, and it has traveled to multiple plants. I did the white tissue test, and the coppery powder came off on it, so it is definitely rust. Two plants were so bad that I immediately dug them up and discarded them.

Are they all a total loss? Is there anything at all I can do?

Any advice? I suppose I can at least report to you guys as to which varieties are most resistant.

Mike in SC

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Mike, sorry to hear about your eye. I cringed when I read about your misadventure. I hope you will have a quick recovery.

First, your daylilies are not a total loss. I would have done exactly what you did with regards to rust - dig up the worst and throw them out. As for the rest, you can cut the foliage back, spray them (I'm only using a dish soap mixture this year - it can't hurt them or me) and watch them. Some gardeners use chemical sprays. I hope others will post and make recommendations. I prefer not to use them.

This heat will slow down the rust. But in the Fall, you'll start to see more rust spores on the leaves. Some of it can be eliminated by removing only the bottom most leaves. Others will need to be completely cut back again - your call. I usually cut every daylily in my garden back to the ground in January. If I have to cut them again during the year...I think about getting rid of it. The third time - they're outta here. They won't do well anyway with repeated cut-backs. I have accepted that there are some daylilies that I can't grow here - they are simply too rusty. I try to note which ones have given others problems and avoid buying them. But sometimes, you never know. On the plus side, I can usually produce enough seeds off of the plant in the first year, to pay for its original cost (but I rarely buy anything over $50).

A word of encouragement - some years are worse than others with regards to rust. This seems to be a bad year, probably due to the mild winter. There is an upside to freezing temps, afterall!
Best of luck -

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 3:12PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Mike, so sorry about your troubles. I really have no advice about the rust, sorry but Kathy seems to know exactly what to do.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 4:46PM
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Mike here is a previous thread that may help. Sorry about your rust and eye injury. The exact same thing happened to my right eye and it really hurt.

Here is a link that might be useful: Daylily Rust

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Thanks to you all--Kathy, it is great to hear all your specific advice--I am going to hope for the best.

Dipsandtets, don't know if you'll open this again, but in regard to your eye, did you have blured vision for several weeks? This happened two weeks ago yesterday, and I'm still blurry.

Also, I wanted to say that I believe the mild winter is the culprit. I had rust (bad rust) on a plant in 2006 and discarded it. I've never seen rust again until this year.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 6:41PM
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