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Zinnias being attacked, help please

Posted by goshawker z4WI (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 14, 05 at 9:04

Hi all,

It seems that whatever was attacking my first couple of planting of Zinnias has returned to my new plantings. The leaves look deformed and off color and the flowers are coming out deformed, missing petals and such. I was wondering what I could use on them to stop the destruction. I don't know enough about what it could be so I'm open to any and all suggestions. I'm gonna google search after I send this, but I know the folks here have better practical answers that University studies.

Thanks,

Steve


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

Do you use any commercial manure or commercial compost? Do you get any manure from somebody else's barn? Are the leaves sort of roughly spoon-shaped?

Sounds a lot like clopyralid to me. That's an herbicide used on many golf courses and in certified weed-free hay. There are many uses for the stuff. The last time I heard, it was an ingredient in 14 different herbicids. Many golf courses sell their grass clippings to compost companies. The poison isn't much affected by composting and is more than ready to poison the plants that are given the compost. In fact, clopyralid isn't much affected by an animal's digestive system either, so manure from animals that have been eating certified weed-free hay can maim or kill plants. That's how I got hit hard a couple of years back - lost a good third of everything and had to find a safe manure source. "Safe" means I have to know the person who grew the hay and know he doesn't use any herbicides and trust him to tell the truth. I am very lucky to have hooked up with an alpaca breeder who buys his hay from someone I already know and trust, who uses no herbicides. A lot of gardeners in this area suffered major losses when a bagged-compost company sold clopyralid-contaminated compost. The stuff was sold in local garden centers, including the big-box stores.

For your sake, I hope it's something else. I found that it took two years of rain to leach it out of the ground enough (or maybe it just breaks down in that time) to not affect very susceptible plants. Some plants are more susceptible than others. The only thing I've grown that doesn't seem at all susceptible is gladiolus.

Jeanne


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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

Zinnias can be so tricky to grow at times. For such workhorses in the field and so pretty in the bouquets, they can be so difficult at times. This is why when we have a really good year growing zinnias, we really, really appreciate it. A number of pests attack the leaves of zinnias -- especially leaf hoppers and leaf miners. What you seem to be describing in your plants is exactly what happens to asters when they are affected by aster yellow. This disease is also spread by leaf hoppers. The only solution we have found is to pull the affected plants before the healty ones are affected. Don't put the diseased plants into your regular compost pile. And, don't plant zinnias in the same area again next season. Rotate those crops.

Another thing interesting about zinnias -- well interesting might not be the right term; however, they are subject to fungus diseases, particularly mildews. I read recently that we should not be planting zinnias anywhere near lilacs because these shrubs are host plants for the powdery mildew. This mildew will cause a total meltdown in your zinnias in no time flat. It didn't sound like you had planted your zinnias near the new lilacs; but, this would be good to remember for future planting.

We always have trouble with Japanese Beetles attacking certain colors in the zinnia sections. They love white especially. They don't cause the plant to become deformed. They just happily munch away on the leaves and petals and mating all the while. Totally disgusting insects.

The herbicide of choice here in the Midwest is Roundup mixed with 24D. The farmers can use higher concentrations of these formulas because they are now growing genetically altered corn and it's herbicide resistant. Zinnias are one of the plants that's unfortunately highly susceptible to any drift from these chemicals. We lost over 20 trays in the greenhouse early in the season when the corn farmer sprayed his field and we had the greenhouse doors open. It seems like if this were the case, you would have noticed signs earlier and all the zinnia plants would have been deformed. My husband said maybe not though. He generally just pulls and destroys the deformed ones.

Good luck solving this problem; and, let us know how you come out with it. I would also consult with your county extension office. We have an agent who works with ornamentals and cutflowers. He is most helpful.


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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

As soon as the fog clears, I'm going out to the field and pull my zinnias that have black spots starting on them. I've also had a few petals missing, or two flower heads on one stem. (in the same place) Last year was my first year growing any quanity of zinnias, and they were great. I didn't plant in the same place this year, but there isn't much out in my field that is doing the same as last year, due to the weather we've had.
Flowerfarmer, it gives me the creeps when I hear you talk about all that herbicide drifting over onto your place, and into your greenhouse. Then toss in the fact about genetically modified corn that can take large does of herbicide without being effected, and how can we even wonder why the cancer rate has escalated? I don't mean any offence to you, of course, you're just telling us about the large commercial farmers, that are unfortunately growing our food. That garden of ours is an incredible amount of work for both my husband and I, but I'm thinking that when I pick beans, and can them today, I won't be complaining as much.
Steve, I hope you get to the bottom of what's causing the problem.
Cheryl


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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

I'm pretty sure it's not due to any herbicide drift and I haven't amended that field with anything yet. I'm thinking leaf hoppers or something along that line sounds more plausable. I did hear some farmers at the county fair talking about it being a bad year for leaf hoppers. Any suggestions on some safe way to extripate them or any other critter that it might be? I am still getting good flowers but my big florist just asked me if I could come up with about 1500 a week for the month of September and while I have more thatn enough plants it doesn't do me any good if all the flowers are toast. I told her I should be able too but that I'm having some sort of pest problem and she should have a back-up plan. She was o.k. with that, but I sure don't want to send her looking for another supplier.

Thanks,

Steve


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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

If you have leaf hoppers, you'll need to be growing under cloth. Be sure to remove all infected plants from the area. You asked for a safe method of removing leaf hoppers. I'm not sure what organic growers use to extripate them -- possibly there aren't any means. Lynn B of Growing for Market had leaf hoppers attack her Karma dahlias last year. The plants didn't survive. She didn't have any recommendations for safe removal of the leaf hoppers. We use sustainable growing methods; however, we're not opposed to taking measures for the beetles attacking our dahlias and zinnias. We never saved our asters last season. The virus spreads quickly. All the plants were removed and destroyed.

Mike Madison suggests that you will see the critters at work on your plants during the night. Since you are out there at night, you'll most likely spot the culprit. He also suggests as I mentioned earlier: your county extension agent is your best friend.........


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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

I have a bumper crop of tall zinnias, yellow, orange & reds, this summer. They are beautiful! As they dry, which is more often here in the heat of the Rio Grande Valley, I just toss a few seeds into a trench and soon have more baby plants to transplant. I usually have zinnias well into the fall and again early in the spring. Butterflies are flocking to our backyard in droves.


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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

Steve,
I also have leaf hoppers for the first time this year, so I imagine that I'll be in your boat next year. I don't spray, but if push comes to shove, I'll have to come up with something. I've noticed these little buggers on my suns, and a few other flowers. They weren't bad this year, but are getting worse as we end the season. I will more and likely have a problem with asters next year. I too will be researching this, and calling the ag dept. for suggestions. Good luck, and if I hear of anything significant, I'll let you know.
Cheryl


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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

Leafhoppers are EVERYWHERE on this continent. It's a matter of how many you have, and whether they are carrying aster yellows, rather than whether you have any. Most of the time they do no significant damage themselves, but unfortunately they carry the aster yellows disease - which can affect some other plants. Leafhoppers are hard to get rid of because they don't chew on the plant, rather they suck juices out. Therefore they aren't eating parts that might have topical poisons on them. They spread the disease by injecting it into plants in their saliva. That's why it's important to pull out and discard infected plants, as soon as you see ANY sign of infection. Those of us who grow organically mostly grow asters under cover. As to whether covering zinnias would help, I don't know.

Jeanne


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RE: Zinnias being attacked, help please

I am having trouble with flower size. I am new to NJ; the soil is clay; i've lightened it with perlite, the plants look large and green but the lowers are about the size of a dime (I am using low N2 and higher PO4 and K with exception of spraying fishmeal on leaves to discourage the deer and chippies from munching. The dahlias (so far) seem to have normal size buds developing. Any suggestions?


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