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my lobelia cardinalis is yellowing ...any ideas?

Posted by dirtgirl So. Illinois (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 19, 08 at 20:40

I originally posted this over on the woodlands forum...and since I planted the cardinal flower for hummers and bees and butterflies, I thought maybe it might do some good to post it here as well. Maybe someone has had something similar happen?
I set out some exceptionally vigorous-looking cardinal flower plants about two weeks back, and I think I am losing a few of them and I'm not sure why. The site is perfect, very moist yet drains well, in sun for about 4-5 hours and then afternoon shade, and the soil is totally purchased mix due to our heavy clay soils being really hard on anything, despite the fact that I strive for natives. Of five clumps of plants, one died completely and two others are acting similarly...with dark green foliage slowly being replaced by yellow streaking and wilting off of lower foliage. ALmost like damping off but the leaves rather remind me of exposure to the family of herbicides that do their thing by restricting photosynthesis. THe other two plants show no sign of this decline and all are trying to send up flower spikes.
I use no chemicals and hand-pick pests, and I did notice an unfamiliar beetle, about 1/4- 1/2 inch long, shiny black and narrowly cylindrical with a cherry red head on several of the plants a week ago. It was a rather beautiful creature but I'm still unsure what it was and wonder if it might have transmitted a wilt/blight?
Just wondering if anyone has had similar experience with leaf-yellowing/streaking and eventual dying in previously healthy and well-positioned plants.... I plan on calling the nursery where I got them Monday, but I think I will lose two more by then.
maybe take pictures ?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: my lobelia cardinalis is yellowing ...any ideas?

Are you watering them? Newly established plants need water.

RE: my lobelia cardinalis is yellowing ...any ideas?

Maybe its just sort of delayed transplant shock? I planted a gorgeous ligularia. Now it looks like crap. I think they give those plants hormones/steroids at the nursery!
Is it getting enough oxygen in the soil around it? Can you cultivate easily around it? Do you think it might need some fertilizer? Another possibility is the stuff my bottom tomato leaves get. Forget what its called. Its a type of fungus/mold? I've found that lots of my stuff around here gets it.
Do you plants get enough air circulation?
Sorry I can't help more Dirtgirl.
Don't take it personally though. (the yellowing).

RE: my lobelia cardinalis is yellowing ...any ideas?

It could be anything BUT lack of water. In fact if it weren't for the fact that only a few of the plants look this way, I'd guess it was TOO MUCH water. The day after I planted everything we had a three inch rain, followed by half-inch showers every few days after that. The last week has been the first time since they were put out that it did not rain and I did water them day before yesterday for good measure. The water is not ponded but the soil is completely moist.

Cathy...I wonder if I tamped the soil down too firmly when I set them out. Yes the transplant shock started within 24 hours of setting out the joe-pye and the lobelia, but the joe pye snapped out of it and then the lobelia went from good to poor . The only thing that did NOT ever droop or change appearance was the blue mist (eupatorium coelestinum) and it came from a different supplier. (Hmmmm? maybe that is a factor) I have to say if you want healthy natives shipped to you in excellent condition, Shooting Star Nursery in Kentucky gets my vote of approval!

RE: my lobelia cardinalis is yellowing ...any ideas?

Hi Dirtgirl,
If you did step on the soil too much, you can still take a hand rake and cultivate around it, so that O2 can get down further.
I have my lobelia in a pot sitting in my pond, so I don't think it can get too much water.......although if the soil is compacted, that could be a problem.
I'll have to check out that Shooting Star Nursery.

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