Something Is Eating My Basil

ashumardAugust 4, 2009

I have had my basil plants for about a 2 months. It has been doing great and was growing so fast i couldn't hardly harvest all of it. Now within the last week or so, one of the plants has turned yellow. It has stopped growing and the leaves look like something has taken big bites out of the leaves.

I pruned off all the affected leaves, hoping that this would help promote new growth. I have just discovered that my mint and pineapple sage have little green aphids and are in the process of being dealt with. The mint and pineapple sage are on the other side of my screened in patio.

My question is what could be eating my basil plant? The rest of my basil is just fine. Could it be aphids and I'm just not seeing any bugs. I didnt know aphids could 'Chew' the leaves off. Any advice or info would be greatly appreciated. I hope to get this under control asap.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It's not the aphids doing the chewing. They can't accomplish that kind of munching.

Believe it or not, if you could take some images of the damage, it might be possible to help you ID the culprit! Beetle, caterpillar, slug, earwig, and other chewing critters all cause biting patterns that are sometimes quite identifiable. I've even seen leaf cutter bee 'bites' on my basil, of late.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 11:15AM
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francescod(6b/7a VA)

Aphids don't chew they suck, literally.

The most common chewers of basil are: slugs, japanese beetles, and caterpillars.

Common causes of yellowing: Too small a pot-the plant is root bound, or it has been overwatered.

If you are growing basil in a shady spot, it would be easier to overwater. Basil prefers full sun. If you are growing in a pot, the plant may simply be under nourished and needs a little fertilizer.

Basil will stop growing once it flowers. Flowering plants should be pruned back hard. Basil harvested by cutting the stems instead of pulling individual leaves will produce much more over the season by encouraging new growth.

F. DeBaggio

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 11:16AM
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The basil is in full sun and the other stems in my pot are doing great. Its in a screened in balcony on the 3rd floor, so theres no way it could be slugs, beetles or caterpillars. Maybe it just needs a bit of fertilizer. The basil actually went into a bigger pot a few weeks ago its in a 2 gallon pot (i think). The potting soil has nutrients in it, but ill give it a bit and see if that helps. It may be time to start giving it some fertilizer.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 4:28PM
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francescod(6b/7a VA)

You say "the other stems in my pot are doing great". Does that mean that, on a single plant, some stems look good and others are dying? If so, then your plant is sick and the disease will likely spread throughout and kill the whole plant. This is a disease usually caused by overwatering. If you recently repotted your basil you should have also cut back on the watering frequency until the plant's roots grew into the new pot. Completely remove any sick stems by cutting them back, past the diseased area. It wouldn't hurt to disinfect your pruners or at least wash them with soap and water to avoid transferring disease to another, healthy plant.

A totally screened in porch could be shading your plants pretty significantly so I'm not sure you could call that "full sun". Full sun generally means, unfiltered direct sun for at least 4 hours, preferably in the morning rather than the evening. Every year I cover a few plants so that I can collect the seeds-they are covered 24/7 with a row cover material prevent cross pollination. However, the sun beats down on them all day long without any other obstructions from buildings or trees. I do have have problems from time to time, especially when the plants stay too wet.

Slug and/or caterpillar eggs could have come with the plant. I wouldn't expect that you'd have aphids either, but you say you do. Something is eating the leaves though, right?

As suggested by rhizo_1, pictures would really help any further diagnosis.

F. DeBaggio

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 5:55PM
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