The Q&A Archives: Milky Drops on Leaves

Question: I have just noticed a milky substance growing or accumilating on some of the perennials in my garden. I tried wiping the substance and seeing if there are any bugs associated with it but only found a few. It seems to be affecting most of the perennials ( coneflowers, black-eyed susans, gailiarda's, shasta daisy's) . Is this of any major concern? How do I try to take care of this problem? Is it a problem?

The substance looks like a drop of milk and seems to concentrate in the corners of the plants.

Please help as soon as possible.

Answer: As curious as the symptoms on your plants sound, there's no commonly encountered insect or disease that would cause a milky drop on the corners of the leaves of such a diverse variety of flowering plants. It's time to put on your detective cap and look for other sources. Are there trees around that are producing sap? Have you sprayed liquid fertilizer, herbicide or insecticides in the vicinity? Sometimes these chemicals turn a milky-white when mixed with water. Why not hose or wipe the spots off and then watch closely for their reappearance? Look upward and all around for a source of this liquid. If it's truely being manufactured by the plants, then take a sample of it to your local cooperative extension office for diagnosis. You'll find a local expert at: Rutgers Cooperative Extension, 1623 Whitesville Rd., Toms River 08753; phone 908 349-1247.

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