Daylilies forum: Spring Sickness

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Name: bb
north of boston on the coast
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1
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lilylady
Apr 25, 2012 6:57 AM CST
A subject which has fascinated me in the past and recently came up on the mother robin (AHS). This led me to this site. Great info there. Studies going on with no direct conclusions.
I have heard from some growers that no way, that don't have it. Well, they did as was seen when visiting. Maybe it is because the daylilies outgrow it before they put in their eagle eyes!
I have seen it here once in a while. It seems to start just around shipping time. They say it is not weather related but can be stimulated by such. I certainly think so with our up and down weather putting stress on the plants.

Just thought you might like to read the several pages of studies. (no, not boring!) And wonder how many here that live in the south have ever seen it. If your plants are now in full growth, it is not the time to look. Here it happens at about 1 ft tall.


http://web.ncf.ca/ah748/sstf.html

Check out all the links at the top or bottom of the pages.



Frequently Asked Questions

What causes spring sickness?
It's been a mystery for decades - at least since the 1950's and possibly even prior to that. We think we are getting closer to an answer but more testing and observations are required. See the What's New page for the latest information regarding possible culprits. Our experiments and observations do, however, appear to rule out spring freezes after growth has commenced as a causative factor.

I have spring sickness in my garden, what should I do about it?
Because we don't fully understand the cause, and no experimental treatments so far have succeeded in preventing spring sickness, most people just wait it out. Many fans will recover in time (this leads some gardeners to think that a treatment has succeeded whereas in fact the plant would have recovered anyway). Alternatively, some suggest cutting off the affected fans at soil level in order to make the plant look more presentable.

Does spring sickness only occur in the coldest USDA Hardiness Zones?
No, for instance the spring sickness task force members cover zones 3 to 9 in various areas of the United States and Canada.

Is the whole daylily clump affected?
Not necessarily, usually it is only a few fans but it can happen that most or all of a clump is damaged.

What are the first signs?
The clump appears normal for a while in spring, but then some fans start to curve sideways and slow down or stop growing. The healthy parts of the plant keep on growing, so the affected ones become more obvious as they get left behind.

Are the leaf edges brown and ragged because a pest has chewed on them?
It doesn't seem to be recent pest damage. Those ragged edges start off very small as rows of "cuts" when the fan is still below ground. As the fan grows, the damage grows along with it rather like when you carve your initials into a squash when it is small, and they enlarge as it grows bigger. We're currently working to find out what causes the "cuts", which may well be a pest but the damage occurs long before you actually see it.

What happens to the stunted fans which don't seem able to outgrow spring sickness?
From what we have observed it appears that some will eventually start growing again quite late in the season and some will disappear completely. In a larger clump, the surrounding healthy leaves may eventually conceal the stunted fans from casual viewing giving the erroneous impression that all is well.

Is spring sickness caused by fluctuating weather conditions in spring?
It doesn't appear to be related since plants experimentally brought indoors in late autumn have still developed spring sickness without further exposure to the weather.

Does fertilizing too early in spring contribute to spring sickness?
It seems unlikely since several spring sickness task force members do not fertilize in early spring and yet their gardens are badly affected by spring sickness. In fact daylilies left unfertilized for a year or two as an experiment showed no decrease in the incidence of spring sickness.

Some tender daylilies get mushy or distorted leaves after a frost, is this spring sickness?
No, it isn't. Unless the fans stop growing or slow right down, curve, twist or grow sideways, and develop the typical brown ragged edges and holes in the leaves, it wouldn't be classified as spring sickness. If you are unsure as to whether you are seeing spring sickness, visit our image gallery and our diagnostic images page.

Will the same plant get spring sickness every year?
Not necessarily. A clump can be affected one year and not the next. Even separate clumps of the same cultivar don't always get spring sickness in the same year in the same garden.

I've heard spring sickness only occurs in the north, is this true?
Certainly most complaints about it come from the north! Reports have come in about plants being affected in the south but it may be that they don't get it as badly, thus people are not as concerned. On the other hand, not all northern gardens see spring sickness.

Does spring sickness only occur in North America?
We have had a few reports of spring sickness from other continents.

Is it only evergreens that get spring sickness?
No. The task force hasn't determined any tendency for evergreens to be affected more than any other daylily. They may get damaged by late frosts and look mushy and distorted, but that isn't spring sickness.

I've heard that the plants which get spring sickness are mostly modern hybrids.
We have observed spring sickness in many older cultivars and even species daylilies.

I've been told spring sickness is caused by thrips.
Some growers are convinced that thrips are involved. These reports usually come from the south and we're not sure if it is the same as the damage described on these pages. While we are keeping an open mind on all possibilities, we have not seen any evidence to connect thrips to spring sickness. See the What's New page for the latest information regarding possible culprits.

My friend says insecticides cure spring sickness.
We think it unlikely that spring sickness can be cured once symptoms have appeared because the damage seems to be done some time before it becomes visible. Some people have suggested they've lessened the severity of spring sickness with insecticide treatments in spring but we have so far been unable to duplicate that result, although cannot rule out the possibility. There have been reports of insecticides being used in the fall to prevent spring sickness the following year. Again, the task force has tried to duplicate these treatments without success so far. It's possible we haven't got the timing or product right yet.

If you haven't been able to prevent spring sickness with insecticides, does that mean it isn't caused by a pest?
Not necessarily. It's difficult to know when to treat and with what when dealing with an unknown enemy! Some pests are not susceptible to certain pesticides and some are just plain difficult to control. One suspect, the bulb mite, is notoriously difficult to control with pesticides on plants in the ground.

Could it be a fungus? I've heard it said that a fungicide can prevent the damage.
A fungus is suspected to be involved in some way, but to what extent we do not know. The daylily leaf streak fungus, Aureobasidium microstictum, has been consistently found in spring sickness lesions on laboratory investigation. But this fungus is thought to infect the plant through a wound of some kind - perhaps this is where a pest is involved. We have heard of several unsuccessful attempts to prevent spring sickness with fungicides. Perhaps now that some gardeners are spraying their daylilies with fungicides on a regular, ongoing basis to combat the new daylily rust we will find out if these products also have an effect on spring sickness. However, the few reports that have come in so far indicate that spraying fungicides for rust has not prevented spring sickness.

It's often said that spring sickness is no big deal, the plants grow out of it and bloom anyway.
Fans affected by spring sickness can remain stunted and not bloom, although many do restart growing and produce scapes. Often the quality and number of blooms is disappointing though. It is a particular problem for daylily sellers, since spring sickness occurs around shipping time and most do not like to send disfigured plants. Hybridizers are also greatly inconvenienced by spring sickness, since badly affected seedlings and newly acquired divisions may take longer to bloom.
Name: shirlee
southeast (Zone 6b)
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mistyfog
Apr 25, 2012 9:27 AM CST
Thanks for posting this information, Bobbie. I, too, am fascinated
with these topics. I have also searched for info regarding these
issues, but also rely on what I see in the garden. Been watching over
these plants for several years, and thus far, I have not had any stunting
of plants as a whole or had blooms or scapes affected by what I assume
to be a case of spring sickness, or a case of leaf streak. Of course, it
is highly possible that I am misdiagnosing, and that I am merely seeing
weather related anomalies.



Name: bb
north of boston on the coast
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1
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lilylady
Apr 25, 2012 11:24 AM CST
Plants will grow out of spring sickness. Even the fans that are affected early, have good looking foliage in just a month! Sometimes though, that fan will not produce as scape. Or so 'they' say!
Name: Joy Wooldridge
Kalama, Wa. (Zone 8b)
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Joy
Apr 25, 2012 3:55 PM CST
I get this every year on many of my plants. I thought it was only happening on my ev and sev's. But I'm paying better attention this year and I'm seeing it on some of my dormants too. I've not noticed it hampering my blooms, but I may have missed that. Will pay more attention to that too this year.

Off to read your link BB. Thanks!
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Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
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daylily
Apr 25, 2012 5:26 PM CST
Bobbie - LOL I just read that post on the robin, and went to the link. Then came here to post it as a new thread - and you beat me to it! Green Grin! Hurray!

Very interesting reading and photos at that link.

I am not the most observant person - but I have never put any pattern together for spring sickness here. Never able to put a finger on if it was worse some years because of this or that. I don't think I had one plant with it this spring. That is unusual.
Name: Char
Vermont (Zone 4b)
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Char
Apr 26, 2012 6:23 AM CST

Moderator

Bobbie, glad you posted this info link. Like Juli, I have zero SS, not one plant with SS here this year and I think they have grown past the stage where it shows. Now I'm wondering what was different about this past year from previous ones?
Name: bb
north of boston on the coast
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1
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lilylady
Apr 26, 2012 6:32 AM CST
Char, Mine just started a couple of days ago. I thought I had past it as well. These were on lined out plants so it maybe was more noticable ???

I'll have a look again today.

Today is burn pile day. Wind is coming up tomorrow for the weekend. Earlier it was too dry (5 wks without rain). Oh, why do I say this? HA! Home today....rather than the estates!
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Name: Brian
Ontario Canada (Zone 5b)
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bearsearch
May 29, 2014 7:15 PM CST

Just wondering if there is any new information on how to control or prevent this? I had one plant with it last year and this year half my garden is all twisted and deformed. A lot of the plants are starting to grow out of it and starting to look good now but a few don't look like they will recover at all. Do plants die from this? The one that had it last year completely disappeared for a while but then came back later in the summer but never bloomed.
Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
May 29, 2014 8:19 PM CST
Someone told me that when they were visiting someplace up north one time that a person (can't remember who) was going around with a spray can and spraying directly down into the fans of his plants. This person asked what he was doing and he said that he sprays bug spray (not sure what kind) into the fans and ever since he started doing that he no longer got spring sickness. Since it is thought that one of the causes may be a bulb mite I can see where the bug spray could help keep it at bay.

Other than that I don't think there is any control or prevention for it yet
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Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
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Gleni
May 30, 2014 1:36 AM CST
I get it over here in Australia too. The plants recover but can miss flowering. This season it was a MORROCAN SUMMER clump that did it. Until I learnt more after joining ATP, I used to dig them up, divide and move: all successfully. Shrug!
Name: Brian
Ontario Canada (Zone 5b)
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bearsearch
May 30, 2014 4:45 AM CST
Since it is thought that one of the causes may be a bulb mite I can see where the bug spray could help keep it at bay.

I would really like to know what kind of spray it is & if it is mites. Most insecticides have been banned here.

Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
May 30, 2014 5:26 AM CST
I will see if I can get the name of the person who was doing this and then maybe you can contact him.
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
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chalyse
May 30, 2014 6:00 AM CST
I'd second the option to dig and move the fans; that always works for me, too. I haven't noticed any bugs, and deformed fans are always seen right next to lots of others that don't twist around at all. With that in mind, one might ponder the interesting array of their dis-ease, and wonder why its always just connected to particular fans (were it insects, you'd usually find more than one infestation). Certainly, it could be that just one cultivar is susceptible to a mite, but it would have to be quite an interesting round-robin feast the insects held for the sickness to rotate in turn to new cultivars each year, and some rhyme or reason for why they vacate the re-planted ones and don't return, as it happens.

On the other hand, for anyone who manages to get by with little or no insecticides, it may be worth trying to break up the clump first and/or move them to another location. I have a small twisting clump that I can see has sent roots rather wildly "tossed upward" and back down through a tangled web of neighboring root systems, so I'll be digging again, setting aright, and watching over them this week. Like others before this, I have no doubt the cultivar will recover its health and uprightness as it settles into its better situated new home, and be blooming next year when yet some other fan or clump goes out of whack.

Hoping yours might do the same if you give it a try. Might be worth it to work each solution on a different section of a clump to see what works out best for a healthy garden in the long run. Group hug
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Name: Brian
Ontario Canada (Zone 5b)
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bearsearch
May 30, 2014 7:29 AM CST
Most of the affected plants were new purchases last year and were planted in areas never seen by daylilies before. The one affected last year and this is still in the same spot but seems to be recovering. Some of my seedlings from last year are also affected and are also planted where no daylilies have previously been. This is just my thoughts on this but I really think weather has some part to play as well. We have had a very slow cold spring and only now warming. Some of my lilium have just poked their noses through the soil within the last two days and I usually have buds showing on some of them by now especially the smaller asiatics. Many of my lilium are also twisted and deformed at the growing tip. So could it possibly be a combination of insect and weather?

Glen and Tina I can't really dig, divide and move because a lot of them are still single fan or just barely double fans and I have run out of space for planting.
Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
May 30, 2014 1:31 PM CST
Here is the link to the spring sickness info which I'm sure you have read. It really is the latest info however it was last updated in 2002. http://web.ncf.ca/ah748/sstf.html

Here is another website that talks about it. I don't know when it was last updated though http://www.decadentdaylilies.com/daylily-spring-sickness/


There is a thought that there are 3 possible causes of spring sickness

1. Bulb Mite
2. Fungus (leaf streak fungus)
3. Weather (being the least likely)

But since no one really knows the cause there is no way of knowing what to do about it I suppose
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Name: Pat
Near McIntosh, Florida (Zone 9a)
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Xenacrockett
May 30, 2014 3:08 PM CST
Glad you raised the issue, bb/lilylady.

I have a daylily that came this year, it was one of a buy one get one set. One daylily is fine, but the other is lopped over like a fish tail.
I took it out of the pot a few days ago to look at the roots and see if anything was going on there, but it appeared okay.
I added some new soil and re-potted it.

The area where these 2 plants came from had a rough winter and they are evergreens.
So it is wait and see.
Name: Brian
Ontario Canada (Zone 5b)
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bearsearch
May 30, 2014 6:47 PM CST
Thanks Michele! I'll give them a read. I was out inspecting my plants today and most of them are recovering but I'll have to wait it out for the rest.
Name: James
South Bend, IN (Zone 5b)
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JWWC
May 30, 2014 7:59 PM CST
Xenacrockett said:Glad you raised the issue, bb/lilylady.

I have a daylily that came this year, it was one of a buy one get one set. One daylily is fine, but the other is lopped over like a fish tail.
I took it out of the pot a few days ago to look at the roots and see if anything was going on there, but it appeared okay.
I added some new soil and re-potted it.

The area where these 2 plants came from had a rough winter and they are evergreens.
So it is wait and see.


In my experience, this is more of a cultivar thing than anything else, unless of course you cut a lot of the foliage back. Some flop, some don't, I just try to make sure it's not trapping any new leaves.
Name: Tina
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chalyse
May 31, 2014 12:53 AM CST
I agree My sense of spring sickness is more along the lines of crown rot or dramatic withering and plant death... but maybe we all need to define terms and peek at some photos? Also, with so much tight space at Brian's place, it would be a treat to see the lush gardens! nodding

I was envisioning what Pat and James described. I've had both floopers and wild-whorlers. The floppers sometimes self-correct, but the wild-whorlers that look like they are going to use their roots to climb out of the ground and wreak havoc, usually get re-planted. I don't know that they would have suffered otherwise, since at least one clump just seems to thrive that way and thus I have left it alone.

Photos might help sort out what this is really all about, perhaps ...
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

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Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
May 31, 2014 3:25 AM CST
The first link I posted has some photos of spring sickness if you look at all the pages. Make sure to click the images to enlarge. Also here is the link for all the photos together http://web.ncf.ca/ep568/gallery.html
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