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Aug 4, 2021 10:56 AM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
I started a pollinator flower garden for the first time this spring. I bought a lot of purple coneflowers as seedlings from greatswamp.org plant sale. They were about 4". They developed great and the blooms were beautiful and then they started to look as though something was eating them so I sprayed w/ Critter out. But then the petals all started to fade and turn brown and black. I thought it was Japanese beetles so sprayed Neem oil and dishwashing soap and water. I sprayed every 5-7 days or more if it rained. Nothing has helped. We've had a lot of rain in N NJ this summer so I don't know if that has anything to do w/ it. I've read it could be Eriophyid mites but how could one tell? I'm really bummed. The other flowers are developing fine but these are the ones I wanted so much. Thanks!
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Aug 4, 2021 11:14 AM CST
Moderator
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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Critter out is a rodent repellent , do not know if it would damage blooms. Mite damage is usually seen on the cones of the flower. Neem oil if put on during a sunny day can burn blooms.
Last edited by NJBob Aug 4, 2021 1:19 PM Icon for preview
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Aug 4, 2021 11:29 AM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
NJBob said:Critter out is a rodent repellent , do not know it it would damage blooms. Mite damage is usually seen on the cones of the flower. Neem oil if put on during a sunny day can burn blooms.


There's always something I leave out. I put Neem oil on at night. Actually I forgot it's Deer Out. But could that be the culprit. Keep deer away so you can ruin your plants yourself?

Any way to know if it's mites?

Do you think I should dead head them all?

Thanks!
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Aug 4, 2021 12:35 PM CST
Northern NJ (Zone 6b)
Like Bob said, mite damage is seen in the cones. So is aster yellows and budworms which I get here, not too far from you. Yours look healthy. If the blooms aren't aged, I would suspect the brown is from one of the sprays.

A few things eat the petals on coneflowers and some are night feeders - Earwigs or Asiatic Garden Beetle or slugs. Look around at night with a flashlight and see if you find anything. I love coneflowers too but so do the animals and I can't always grow them.
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Aug 4, 2021 2:22 PM CST
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
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When you say it "looked as though something was eating them" what exactly do you mean? Little holes, big bites, petals, leaves? The flower head in your photo could be normal ageing... I don't see evidence it's been eaten.

Please post more complete pix... whole plants, leaves and where you think something's chewing.

Repeatedly spraying things on your plants without knowing what you're targeting can do more harm than good.
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
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Aug 4, 2021 4:04 PM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
LorettaNJ said:Like Bob said, mite damage is seen in the cones. So is aster yellows and budworms which I get here, not too far from you. Yours look healthy. If the blooms aren't aged, I would suspect the brown is from one of the sprays.

A few things eat the petals on coneflowers and some are night feeders - Earwigs or Asiatic Garden Beetle or slugs. Look around at night with a flashlight and see if you find anything. I love coneflowers too but so do the animals and I can't always grow them.


OK I'll look at night and see. Thanks!

Here are some pix: One thing I can't find is whether purple coneflowers start out w/ yellow petals and turn purple or is that a sign of aster yellows? At first it looked like a ground hog or something was eating the leaves, then the problem w/ the blooms started. I guess I'll be happy if I created the problem. well happy might be an exaggeration but at least not some infestation.


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Aug 4, 2021 4:10 PM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
NMoasis said:When you say it "looked as though something was eating them" what exactly do you mean? Little holes, big bites, petals, leaves? The flower head in your photo could be normal ageing... I don't see evidence it's been eaten.

Please post more complete pix... whole plants, leaves and where you think something's chewing.

Repeatedly spraying things on your plants without knowing what you're targeting can do more harm than good.


OK. I thought the spray targeted most insects except pollinators. I guess not. I posted some pix above and here's another. I don't know whether purple coneflowers have yellowish petals to start off with as these all did. Thanks again!


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Aug 4, 2021 8:02 PM CST
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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Yellow asters is pretty distinguishable. I don't see it on any of your pictures. Smiling
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Aug 4, 2021 8:38 PM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
Hamwild said:Yellow asters is pretty distinguishable. I don't see it on any of your pictures. Smiling


Well that's good! Thanks!
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Aug 4, 2021 9:00 PM CST
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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I tip my hat to you.
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Aug 4, 2021 9:58 PM CST
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
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Region: New Mexico Salvias Enjoys or suffers hot summers
It looks like two different issues. In the first photo, something has munched on the leaves. I'd guess a caterpillar of some sort, possibly grasshopper; if it's a mammal it's small and not very hungry! The damage doesn't look severe. For some reason I can't clearly enlarge the other photos of the larger holes. It could be a bacterial leaf spot. I can see that the holes don't cross the center vein, but can't tell if the holes are confined by the smaller veins. Some caterpillars can do that, but more often they munch the edges. If it's bacterial, that's more problematic. For now, try to keep the foliage dry until something else manifests.

Overall, your plants look quite healthy and the flowers look fine. I would watch it for a bit. Examine the leaves early in the morning, front and back, and the stems. You're looking for a caterpillar of some sort, and they often go into hiding when the sun gets warm. Look also for little dark pellets, which are caterpillar and grasshopper poop. They will tell you something's around. Sorry I can't be more help. If it gets worse in a few days, take closer better focused photos of the damage. Do remember that a few imperfections don't necessarily mean there is something horribly wrong, it's just nature being nature.
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
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Aug 5, 2021 4:21 AM CST
Northern NJ (Zone 6b)
I agree with Zoe. Overall healthy, possibly grasshoppers, or something eating the leaves. The pedals will brown as they age. I also cannot tell if those gray areas are a leaf spot or something that munches on the layers of leaves.
A lot of things eat coneflowers. They attract a lot of pollinators too. Personally I would lay off the spray. I don't think it's helping you anyway. Just expect some imperfections on coneflowers.
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Aug 5, 2021 5:18 AM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
GROW ORCHIDS!!!
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My coneflowers here in Michigan always have something nibbling on the petals. Last year it was very bad, this year it is moderate. Mine are being eaten by earwigs, but I don't care!!!
I feel that if I start spraying, I could cause more harm then good! Why am I spraying?? Because I want the flowers whole and uneaten! But that's silly.
I too have a pollinator garden that I am expanding every season. This year my honeybee count is up! My bumblebee count is up!! Now I am seeing butterflies visit as well! They could care less that the leaves are nibbled. They could care less that the petals are nibbled. That are there for the central heads. If they are intact and functioning then the pollinators are happy.
Cosmetically I don't care what they look like. I don't want to spray for fear of harming the pollinators. I mean it is so cool to see two bumblebees on a head and then a honeybee joins them. How cool is that??? They could care less that the petals have been chewed on.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
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Aug 5, 2021 7:37 AM CST
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
Hummingbirder Butterflies Bee Lover Garden Art
I've read that goldfinches sometimes rip the entire petal off. I figure the flowers die eventually, at least someone enjoys them. *Blush*
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Aug 5, 2021 9:22 AM CST
Northern NJ (Zone 6b)
I don't get the gold finches until the seed ripens in the fall. By that point I'm not really paying attention. I never noticed them ripping off petals but could be. I'll have to watch this time.
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Aug 5, 2021 11:25 AM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
NMoasis said:It looks like two different issues. In the first photo, something has munched on the leaves. I'd guess a caterpillar of some sort, possibly grasshopper; if it's a mammal it's small and not very hungry! The damage doesn't look severe. For some reason I can't clearly enlarge the other photos of the larger holes. It could be a bacterial leaf spot. I can see that the holes don't cross the center vein, but can't tell if the holes are confined by the smaller veins. Some caterpillars can do that, but more often they munch the edges. If it's bacterial, that's more problematic. For now, try to keep the foliage dry until something else manifests.

Overall, your plants look quite healthy and the flowers look fine. I would watch it for a bit. Examine the leaves early in the morning, front and back, and the stems. You're looking for a caterpillar of some sort, and they often go into hiding when the sun gets warm. Look also for little dark pellets, which are caterpillar and grasshopper poop. They will tell you something's around. Sorry I can't be more help. If it gets worse in a few days, take closer better focused photos of the damage. Do remember that a few imperfections don't necessarily mean there is something horribly wrong, it's just nature being nature.


Not sure why it's quoting your whole message. Anyway, thanks! I will keep them dry.

You say they look healthy but I've never seen petals of coneflowers all turn brown and black. Here's another photo. Maybe it was from me spraying even though it was supposed to not harm the plants. Thanks again!

I'm also uploading something else I just noticed. There are these yellow dots in a circle on a bunch of the cones. Is this anything to be concerned about? Thanks!


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Aug 5, 2021 11:27 AM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
LorettaNJ said: Personally I would lay off the spray. I don't think it's helping you anyway.


Yes thanks, I'm definitely going to lay off spraying.
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Aug 5, 2021 11:35 AM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
GROW ORCHIDS!!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
The yellow things are pollen.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
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Aug 5, 2021 11:35 AM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
BigBill said:
I feel that if I start spraying, I could cause more harm then good! Why am I spraying?? Because I want the flowers whole and uneaten! But that's silly.
I too have a pollinator garden that I am expanding every season. This year my honeybee count is up! My bumblebee count is up!! Now I am seeing butterflies visit as well! They could care less that the leaves are nibbled. They could care less that the petals are nibbled. That are there for the central heads. If they are intact and functioning then the pollinators are happy.
Cosmetically I don't care what they look like. I don't want to spray for fear of harming the pollinators. I mean it is so cool to see two bumblebees on a head and then a honeybee joins them. How cool is that??? They could care less that the petals have been chewed on.



That's awesome you're seeing more bees and butterflies. I love seeing them all over my flowers. But unlike you I do care about what they look like. Mine look like a scene from a horror movie maybe directed by Tim Burton. Almost all petals burnt brown and black and shriveled. I posted a single photo of one just above. And I won't spay now. Thanks!
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Aug 5, 2021 11:38 AM CST
Essex County Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
BigBill said:The yellow things are pollen.


Oh haha! ok thanks! Did I say I'm new to this Smiling

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