The Q&A Archives: Disappearing Leaves On Delphinium

Question: Last year I planted a blue delphinium in a mostly sunny area in my flower bed and it bloomed. It came up nicely this year and then suddenly the leaves were gone, chewed away or had holes in them and the once bushy, healthy plant is now just a bunch of stems. Bugs are not evident on the plant What could it be? How should I treat it? I would rather not put anything chemical on it as I am pregnant and I have an 18 month running around. A nearby coneflower plant looks to be the next victim. . . .

Answer: Based on your description I am not sure whether the plant has been nibbled by an animal such as a bunny or woodchuck (you may see bunnies early in the morning or in the evening, woodchucks any time of day) or if the problem is slugs. Slugs work at night and leave shimmery slime trails behind and will eat foliage to the ribs. They can be controlled by hand picking at night and by sprinkling diatomaceous earth (a powder from the garden center)on the soil around the plant. If the problem is a bunny, you will need to trap (and its relatives) and relocate them or fence the garden. If the problem is a woodchuck, you will need to trap it and remove it with the help of an animal control professional -- this is an unpredictable wild animal that causes terrible bites and is dangerous to have in an area where people frequent.

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