Ask a Question forum: Milkweed leaves

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Janh
May 17, 2016 7:51 PM CST
My milkweed plant has brown spots on leaves and I am not sure what's going on or how to treat it.what can I spray it with to save it?
Thumb of 2016-05-18/Janh/7096dc

Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 17, 2016 8:48 PM CST
Welcome!

It looks like something is eating it.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
May 17, 2016 8:54 PM CST
Hm, it kind of looks like mechanical damage to me - did you have a hail storm recently? The newer leaves look like they're not affected so much.

Make sure the damage is still going on before you spray anything on milkweed. What you spray may be toxic to the butterflies - you did plant it for butterflies, right?

Also, once the butterflies find it, you realize the caterpillars will absolutely eat all the leaves anyway? They use it for nectar and also as a host plant for the caterpillars. It doesn't hurt the plant, because the leaves grow but it will be just naked sticks for a while. I like to plant something else around it to hide the sticks, like Gaillardia or Salvia.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

Janh
May 19, 2016 10:29 PM CST
I did plant it for the caterpillars, but I do not have any yet. It was kind of a bad picture. I will try and post one again. I just am worried it has some disease.
Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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AlyssaBlue
May 20, 2016 7:36 AM CST
To me, it looks like something is eating it, because of the holes in the leaves. Do you see any webs along the stems? Take a look on the underside of the leaves, where bugs usually hide.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
May 20, 2016 10:30 AM CST
It looks to me like it could be milkweed leafminer, Liriomyza asclepiadis:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/1144368/bgimage

If they haven't already left, you may see tiny maggots underneath the leaf's "skin", if you don't want to try surgery to find them then shine a flashlight through the spots and see if you can see them that way.

It may help to know where the plant is located (e.g. country, state/province).

Janh
May 25, 2016 8:15 PM CST

Thumb of 2016-05-26/Janh/6c4b2d

This is a close up. Very weird.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
May 25, 2016 8:30 PM CST
Jan, did you have aphids on the plants while they were smaller? Milkweed gets infested with a species of yellow aphids down here. I'm just wondering if maybe the leaves were damaged while they were just coming along, and now have this scarring on them. Some of the leaves in your first picture look slightly deformed (bent) as well. Also in the first picture the leaves further up the stem aren't scarred like that. Does the damage go right through to the back of the leaf?

Did you buy the plants from a nursery or garden center? They may have sprayed them with something for aphids before you got the plants and now the leaves are showing the effects of aphid damage.

Is the damage continuing, or has it stopped? Are there any new leaves? New stems with healthy leaves? Whatever caused this damage may have moved on.

I don't think you want to spray the plants with anything unless you're sure what the problem is. But do spray them with the hose occasionally to keep the leaves clean and healthy, despite their tatty appearance.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

Janh
May 25, 2016 9:27 PM CST
Yes those yellow aphids are the worst. I planted this about 2years ago and it got so infested I thought I lost it and never touched it. Then last year it came back. The yellow aphids are on there again. Not as bad as before. The new growth leaves look good. I'm really excited because as most people on here said that something was eating it they were right I just found the monarch caterpillars. So maybe the aphids and the caterpillars are damaging it to change colors? I just did not know they would turn the leaves to brown and black spots, I thought they just eat holes. I'm happy the caterpillars are there for my kids. I was/am worried it it is a fungus or a disease? I'm still looking at the leafminer posted above as a possAbility? Thank you all for helping me get to the bottom of this

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