The Q&A Archives: Sunflower Pests

Question: Last year i planted Burpee's 'Chianti' sunflower. They grew well and started to flower nicely. Then the problem began. They started to fall over at the soil level. I examined the inside of the stalk and it was hollow. It looked like the kindof damage that a cane-borer does to a rose. What can I do to prevent this from happening again? The same thing happened to the 2 foot miniature sunflowers that you offer. any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: It's really disappointing to lose vigorous, healthy seedlings to pests! The culprit sounds like some sort of cutworm. You can prevent damage by placing stiff paper or cardboard collars around the stalks (subscription cards from magazines are ideal!).The collars should reach up to the first leaves and inserted at least 1/2" into the soil. Hope this does the trick!

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