Herbicide damaged lilies,recover?

lora_in(z5 central IN)June 6, 2007

Hi there,

I have a sad story and a truly horrible photo to post & I hope some of you lily experts can help me out. I need help deciding what is salvageable/recoverable from over 800 sq ft of flower beds that were thourghly soaked with broad leaf herbicide. My best guess as to the chemical used is Atrazine or an Atrazine/Dicamba mix in liquid form.

The lilies that were hit the worst are totally bleached out and look like the worst chlorosis you ever saw X 10 and I figure those are gonners.

The least affected are somewhat short and 'odd',leaves are too close together,flower buds sticking out in odd places,etc. Those I've bare rooted,washed & soaked & planted in tubs in fresh potting mix.

The lilies in question are the in betweens,very distorted but not bleached. This is a photo of what I'm talking about. It's pretty ugly so if your squeamish don't look !

If these have any chance of recovering in the next few years they will get a pot and TLC but... we are exhausted,some 80 daylilies & other perennials have already been dug out,washed & transfered to a very dear friends house. There is still quite a bit to dig as that bed was mature & pretty packed.If these lilies really don't have a chance then I have to move on to the plants that might have a better chance. So please,if anyone has any expert advice, I am all ears.


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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I can't give you a for sure answer, but I would think that if they're green and growing they stand a chance of making it, no matter how awful they look this year. If your bed was really "soaked" with the chemical and it was Atrazine you may have bigger problems as it carries over in the soil for up to three years and pretty much anything you plant in there will be affected. I didn't think there was anyone out there who still used Atrazine. Best of luck to you. I feel your pain.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 8:04AM
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lora_in(z5 central IN)

Hi Hostaholic,
They are tubbed,tagged and moved to the safe side of the yard.The growth tip is still alive so maybe there is hope?
Atrazine is widely available in Indiana for home and agri use. It's the main active ingredient in weed & feed products and commonly used for burn-down in no till corn fields. Yes, the bed was really soaked and it was done more than once.It was done last year also but the tremendous amount of rain made the damage very minimal.
It was,for those who wonder,no accident. It was a very pointed and malicious personal attack that not only destroyed 12 years of gardening but also poisoned one of our dogs and killed the baby turtles that took refuge in our puddle of a pond. Our dog will recover because she was vetted quickly and we knew what to look for. Five years ago another dog wasn't so lucky and died a horrible death from liver & kidney failure.
There will be no more garden to worry about,that part of the yard is being stripped bare & will be sodded. All of the salvageable plants are being moved to a friends house or put in an exposed public area that the poisoner probably won't touch.
I wish you were closer, I have a ton of multiple hostas that need to be edited to make room for survivors. I better go over to the hosta forum & seed if I can find anyone local in need. Lora

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 12:29PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

I can't give you specific experience with Atrazine, but my strong inclination is that if the bulb is not stone cold dead, it is salvagable. If Atrazine acts like glyphosate "Round-Up" the best course of action is to cut the foliage before it can be transported to the roots. If Atrazine is NOT taken by the leaves down to the roots then digging up and washing is the best bet and you have a very good chance of saving your bulbs. I'd ask my local nursery person for advice on how this herbicide behaves.

Bulbs (especially when mature) have large stores of energy. They can take all kinds of abuse, which depletes their energy, but as long as there are some reserves left, can then come back the next year (albeit smaller).

I'm so sorry this happened. In addition to losing so many plants, having to deal with it being a premediated attack must be very difficult.

Best wishes, Helen

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 4:50PM
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lora_in(z5 central IN)

Hi Helen,
Sadly,Atrazine is very wicked & absorbed by both the roots and green parts :( The darn stuff is very persistant in the soil under certain conditions too as Hostaholic said. I've put some healthy tomato seedlings in as indicator plants and they are starting to blanch so there is still a lethal amount in the soil.
In higher doses it stops photosynthesis,in lower doses it messes with the hormone system that tells plants when & where to grow & flower.
I used to be a greenhouse manager & I've called all my sources at Purdue:) Turns out there is zero information about "non-target" plants other than agricultural crops.
My big concern is that as a storage organ,the bulb will retain enough chemical to cause long term damage and end up as a 'failure to thrive' type thing.
The bulbs we've dug are solid,root structure is small but not rotted or dried out.The outermost layer of scales have been reduced to paper thinness.But the bulbs are big,most are softball size or larger. Citronella is smaller but it looks to be the most normally shaped. I guess we will just have to see how it goes and hope for the best.

I thank you for your sorrow. I think our whole family is in mourning.It was a very lively,lived in kind of garden that welcomed exploring children.There have been plenty of little green armymen battling around the pond and toddelers stroking lambs ears,little boys following garter snakes and picking strawberries. It gave armloads of flowers for weddings,funerals and 'just because'.It drew in people to just sit and listen to the birds or watch the hummingbirds or smell the flowers.And it's destruction has shown me how many good friends we have as they have given their time,topsoil and pickup trucks to rescue what's left.
It should all be gone tomorrow and there will be an empty place in my heart.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 9:03PM
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Lora - saw your post on the hosta forum. I don't need any hostas but was wondering if you were able to press charges or take legal action against the individual that did this.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 4:33PM
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I agree with and was thinking the same thing as Teresa. This sick, malicious person should be locked up! If they would kill plants and animals, would they stop there?

I'm so sorry, Lora!!!


    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 4:51PM
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I too am so sorry this happened to you. What on earth could possess someone to do such a horrible deed?


    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 6:00PM
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lora_in(z5 central IN)

Teresa, Hosta-Haven and Caliloo,
Thank you.
DH is a police officer and we have spoken with the prosecuting attorney in the past about this person.The burden of proof is rightfully high. We would need a witness or a video tape of the act and multiple soil & plant samples analyzed at 125$ each. Even then they could claim it was an accident. (couldn't be an accident,damage is showing up 22 ft away from the fence)
The dogs and turtles were likely collateral damage. I doubt they knew the turtles were in the pond. Our little Belgian Malinois probably ingested it by eating grass,she edges the flower beds for me.Yep, it sucks but that's reality.
As for why? Nobody knows.I think mental instability plays a part but as for why we (or me) are a target?I can only make some guesses.
So, I will counter the evil of this situation by turning it into something good.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 7:29PM
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Lora, Did I read this correctly that this is the second time someone has deliberately poisoned your garden?

I simply can not understand the workings of that kind of persons mind!!! As I'm typing this I can look out over my garden and I can't imagine it all being gone, destroyed by an evil minded individual.

Did you call the authorities and show then the damage your garden received? If so what was their reaction? Did you relate your previous incident to them? There has to be a recourse for you.

Have you thought about calling your local newspaper and telling them your story? Have them send a photographer to take pictures of what happened. The public needs to know about the evil that was done to you now and for you to retell the story about the previous incident. By making the story known to more than just friends you may be able to find a way to prove you know who the perpetrator is and convict them.

Good luck with your plant recovery and the cleanup of your destroyed garden.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 7:53PM
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I had a neighbor like that too. Every time I'd go shopping or to church, he'd come in my yard and chop down one of my trees. I replaced them as quickly as he cut them down. I also told him that for every one he cut down, I was going to plant two. And I let him see me taking pictures of my flowers and trees every morning. His horrible habits slowed down a bit, but never ceased. Last week he moved out! (There is a God.)

I am truly sorry for your losses. What a wretched person the perpetrator must be. I hope you get some video tape of him doing his mischief, and put him behind bars where he belongs.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 9:29PM
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lora_in(z5 central IN)

Hi Connie,
Oh yes,it's at least the second time that I know of and just the tip of the iceberg. They always manage to stay just on the legal side of the line,crazy like a fox!
All we can do is document what happens and be very careful.I really can't say too awful much more if I'm going to have a chance of prosecuting in the future. We are well protected from most physical harm & have a wide network of backup help to call on.
The police,sadly,don't have the resources to deal with this and have much bigger fish to fry. Marion county is fast becoming a murder mecca and one of the places where you can commit felony child molestation and not spend any time in jail.
Moving dosen't sound so bad.
Oh Lainey, I feel for you! Just knowing someone was in your yard,much less cutting your trees down,it's a violation :(
There are sick,evil people in this world.I still think goodness can prevail even if it's just one little bit at a time. Lora

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 11:25PM
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hostared(Z5, IL)

OMG what a A-hole. (that's putting it lightly)
Very mean...but I always say...What goes around comes around. They will get theirs. God sees all.

I am so sorry for what you and your family and pets are going through...this is unthinkable!

PS This looks like the hostaforum....
We care lora very much. Update us on HF

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 9:56AM
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It was truly sorrowful to see, in person, the damage that your not-so-neighborly neighbor has done to your beautiful garden. As a lily and hosta fancier myself, I know how fussy lilies can be and how much work it takes to keep them increasing in size from year to year. One only has to look at your soil to know how much work has gone into your garden. It is truly wonderful soil and the results are obvious. I think the half-life of most herbicides is fairly short, so I'm hoping your soil will be usable again soon.

Thank you again for the kind gift of your hostas and your hospitality. I'll send you pics so you can see how your babies are doing.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 8:51PM
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ademink(z5a-5b Indianapolis)

LOL @ Gloria...it does look like the HF! ;)

Lora, you are AWESOME!!!! A day that could have been really sad and depressing ended up being a time of making new friends and sharing stories and laughs.

Lora and her husband are truly wonderful, warm people and their boys are AWESOME! I felt like I was a guest at great party and yet WE were the ones already being blessed with incredible, huge hostas. Wow.

What a great day and what a blessing to know Lora and her family!

Thanks a million for a wonderful afternoon! :)


    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 1:05AM
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Hi Lora,

I cannot thank you enough for the beautiful hostas you gave me. DH kinda just shook his head and went back inside when I got home with my carload. I think his head is still spinning! :)

Also, thank you to all three of you (Lora, Andrea, Lainey) for your wonderful hosta knowledge. And for putting up with my repetitive question of "Now what is this?" and "what is that?" I know that my soil here is nowhere near as great as what these "hostababies" are used to, but hopefully they'll be willing to put up with it. :)

Lora, I wish you and your family the best in dealing with this situation. Keep us posted as your able to. I'll keep you guys in my thoughts and prayers.

Again , thank you so much!


    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 11:53PM
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I can't imagine how I would feel in your shoes. What he/she has done is reprehensible. (in looking up the correct sp for this I clicked the thesaurus for it . These words start to sum up what I was thinking when I read your posts. Synonyms: abhorrent, atrocious, awful, base, beastly, contemptible, cursed, deplorable, despicable, detestable, disgusting, execrable, foul, grim, hairy*, hateful, heinous, hellish, horrible, loathsome, lousy, nasty, nauseating, obnoxious, odious, offensive, repellent, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, rotten, sleazeball, stinking, terrible, very bad, vile, wretched. Sick. I give you a lot of credit it sounds like you are taking the high road in dealing with this. My heart and my sympathies for the losses you have suffered. I hope that you are able to end this, before more damage is done. Good luck Frogged.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 11:31AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Please keep us posted. I agree that you are really taking the high road. Frogged certainly gives an accurate description of anyone so mean-spirited as to purposefully do such a thing. When I commented about the Atrazine it was because no one in this area uses it any more.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 4:20PM
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