The Q&A Archives: Broccoli Wilting

Question: I have had a few broccoli plants get wilty and develop yellow leaves over night. I suspected something had damaged the root. When I pulled up the plant there were little white worms eating what was left of the root. I'm not sure if this would be wire worms or cut worms. Could you help me on this? What do I do to get rid of them?

Answer: The pests you've discovered may be cabbage maggots (1/3" long, white grubs), or cutworms (up to 1" long and curl when disturbed). Both feed on the roots of plants and sometimes the stems at the soil surface. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will control both these pests at the soil surface. Below surface level is more difficult and the best course of action might be to rotate your cole crops to a different garden spot next year. Dig any broccoli plants that show symptoms and destroy the grubs when you find them. A natural repellent might be to interplant mint with your cole crops. Mint can become invasive, though, so carefully consider this option!

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