stalks splitting from root up - Knowledgebase Question

schenectady, Ne
Avatar for ilyssawells
Question by ilyssawells
July 1, 2010
I had transplanted cucumber plants and they died within days. Now it appears something is wrong with the soil. My cantaloupe plants were growing strong and have trippeled in size and even have flowers on them. They were doing well yesterday when i watered them. Then today one of them is completed dried up like a stick from the root up. The leaves were somewhat healthy but the roots were gone. ???

Answer from NGA
July 1, 2010
Cucumbers and related plants like squash and melons don't take the root disturbance of transplanting well. If you start them from seed early indoors or purchase seedlings, be sure to use ones grown in peat pots so you can plant them pot and all without disturbing the roots. Also make sure that transplants are hardened off before you set them in the garden- that is, they need to be accustomed gradually over the course of about a week to outside temperatures and light and wind intensities before they are planted outside.

I can't say for sure why one of your melon plants is drying up, but I can think of a couple of possibilities. An insect called the squash vine borer sometimes attacks melons and cucumbers, although it is more common on squash plants. A female moth lays eggs in the soil near the base of the plant that hatch out into white caterpillars that bore into the stalk at the base to feed, which causes the stalk to wilt and die from the base. You'll often see mounds of sawdust like material near the base of the stalk and if you slice the stalk open lengthwise, you may find the borer inside. If you can catch the borer before the stalk is completely wilted, you can slice the stem, kill the borer, then pile soil over the cut area of the stalk. It will often form new roots and recover.

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