Hollow Sunflower Stems - Knowledgebase Question

Allentown, PA
Question by brownd8
January 28, 2000
I have successfully grown sunflowers the past two years, but when I cut the flowers for arrangements I notece that the stems are hollow in the center and brown and mushy around the center. I did find small, white maggots in the brown, mushy part once. Eventually the sunflower leaves turn yellow then brown and dry up. Despite all that I do get mature seed heads. Any ideas as to what's going on?


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Answer from NGA
January 28, 2000

0

Based on your description it sounds like they are being attacked by sunflower stem weevils. These overwinter inside the base of the stems and then emerge in late spring or early summer to lay eggs and begin the cycle again. To stop the cycle, remove and destroy the old stems and roots (and thus the overwintering pests) of the sunflower plants each fall. You could also delay planting the new crop until June so that the new seedlings are too small to be attractive for egg laying purposes should any adults be in the area.

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