The Q&A Archives: Ravaged Potentilla

Question: I have 2 Potentillas both planted in a sunny bed. I am not sure of the variety but can describe both. #1 was planted last year and had dainty pink flowers the other has/had daisy-like flowers. #1 bloomed for a brief period this year (with yellow flowers) and then proceeded to dry up and as I said it looked raveged. #2, same thing only this one came from a nursery and looked healthy until I got a hold of it. Ravaged!
I have several Ladie's Mantle whos top leaves brown and shrivle and die.
Could I have a fungal disease that is affecting both?
Help Please! My instincts tell me to prune them all to the ground but i'll wait to hear from you.

Answer: Based on your descriptions I am not sure what happened. Both of these plants are usually problem free with the exception that Japanese beetles will crunch on potentilla, so I am a bit surprised. To hazard a guess, however, I would wonder about your soil preparation and watering. The lady's mantle will turn crispy in a sunny location if it does not have enough water. Potentilla is more tolerant of a dry location but will also dry out and die back if water stressed. Newly planted plants are most susceptible to this type of stress. The plants should come back next year unless they were killed outright. You can always remove truly dead plant parts; if there is still life in the branches you might leave them until the normal tidying up time next spring. You might want to be sure you are adding plenty of organic matter to the soil when you prepare the planting beds, keep the plants well mulched, and then water often enough to keep the soil moist yet not soggy. Good luck with your plants!

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