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Article: Ask-a-Gardener: Your Gardening Questions Answered: What eats ornamental rhubarb?

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Forum: Article: Ask-a-Gardener: Your Gardening Questions AnsweredReplies: 8, Views: 28
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(Zone 5b)

December 26, 2011
11:42 AM

Post #8943291

I have been growing a ( what starts out as ) gorgeous chinese ornamental rhubarb for five years now in Alberta, Canada. It is stunning until the bugs come out. The leaves get skeletonized every summer. I have searched high and low, tried nightime raids with a flashlight, set out bug traps, encircled it with egg shells and then later with diatomaceous earth ( both of which work wonders with the slug/hosta problem ) and have searched for other signs like a slime trail or feces. Nothing! I have a regular rhubarb planted about 6 feet away and it does not get touched. I presume the regular rhubarb has a higher concentration of oxalic acid in it's leaves. Any ideas what is eating it and how I can get rid of this pest ( preferably enviro friendly way to get rid of it as the whole garden is a bird playground )? Thanks.


Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)

December 26, 2011
1:01 PM

Post #8943352

I would have suspected slugs, but if you're not seeing any evidence, I'm at a loss.
Do you have any pictures of the damage?
Mount Vernon, KY

May 13, 2012
8:54 AM

Post #9122073

I know this is an older article.
I notice you just put up picture today of a melon and glasses -- very funny.
But I did not feel I should get your thoughts on my garden problem at that article.
I work very hard to keep us in strawberries! And this year has been a scrappy pitiful year.

I have run into a major problem with my strawberries this year.

The problem is - I am unsure of the problem:

1.)I am unsure if it is the variety of strawberries- I ordered from Gurney's last year - but I forgot what they were- what ever they were it was Gurney's two top choices. They did great last year, produced runners - rolls thickened up - but this spring (strawberries did develop a little early too - started about the first of May) but strawberries were very few and scrappy. Although there is the occasional - but very seldom nice looking berry. The leaves formed brown rust like spots on them. I have barely scrapped together 7 scrappy quarts - a lot of the leaves have completed died and the plants are thinned out!

2.) or could it be not the variety but the the late freeze after a very warm season in Kentucky ?

I still have my old patch around - from last year. It has for the last three years given me 80 quarts each year. I have kept it thinned out, but as I said it was getting some age on it, and it was time to start a new patch last spring --and I did. Good thing too because the old patch - did not produce many runners at all or new plants -- but they are this year. I see a little of those brown spots on the old patch - but not many - and considering there are not that many plants - they have almost as many berries as the new.

The thing is - I ordered from Gurneys again this spring - and put out a new row in a different place and they look great too -- the variety is called sparkle supreme and agin it was their top choice - they have no brown spots on their leaves -- and there is even a few strawberries forming on them.

what should I do?
Should I thin out this new patch and hope for a better year next year---- or plow it under and go looking (it is getting late) for Red Chief - that is an old variety that is rather disease resistant - or maybe pull up my plants from the old patch and replant them in the new patch -- there is some yellow look - to my old patches new strawberries that might mean there is a nutient deficiency?

I know this is rather long, but we are on a low glycemic diet for health reasons-- there are six of us and I depend on these strawberries to make smoothies - to satisfy our sweet tooths-- and darn if I was prepared to have to buy them at the grocery.


Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)

May 14, 2012
6:03 AM

Post #9122983

I would take some of the foliage with the brown spots to your Extension Office. They know the specific problems and diseases for your specific area and can advise you better.

Extension Offices are your best resource when you have something unknown.
Mount Vernon, KY

May 14, 2012
7:45 AM

Post #9123170

In between the rain yesterday - I wondered through that new patch trying to figure out what to do. I think you are right- I probably will go up and talk to them , but I would not have thought to tahke a leaf with me.



Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)

May 14, 2012
8:22 AM

Post #9123223

I'd take a whole plant. It might give them some extra clues.
Mount Vernon, KY

May 14, 2012
5:05 PM

Post #9123910

Well I did.
And the extenstion officier gave no clear answer. He did not know if Gurney's picked a bad one or if it is just the worse spring ever. 80 degree temps and then freeze. He did tell me that the grass for hay had come early to head (I already knew it) and he was going to cut his hay this coming Wednesday and wanted to know when we were cutting out. And he wanted to know how our cows were (he is a neighbor).

He said that in Feb I could come up to the extension office and put in my order. The extension office through UK orders a bunch of strawberries for growers, so they are cheaper and they pick out the type that they think will do the best. Right now what they are ordering is Earliglow and Allstar. The dormant strawberries come in around April .

After this spring - and the freeze I don't think I want Earliglow, or anything early!.

But all said and done ---- his option won't be getting me strawberries this year but more importantly --- next year either.

So I've made a new bed out of my old bed, today; and made a big birthday cake 8 of them and I am beat!
The old bed plants had last year to rejuvenant - I thinned them down a lot last year and they sit there - not much growth - but they are this spring! Those plants are looking pretty good, anyway - no spots. I am going to still keep the old bed-too and I am going to keep this bed from this year also. I will mow and tile thinning the rows down - just like they actually did produce something this year (which they did not!)

Gee that is a lot of strawberries.
The Old bed
The Bed from last year; that did not produce.
A brand new bed I planted this April from Gurney's choice.
Plus another new bed from my old bed.

I hope it is a good year next year - but mostly I hope my hip bones hold out. Since last year I can just feel this deep ache in them/ not even many strawberries and I can feel it.


Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)

May 15, 2012
5:57 AM

Post #9124471

The cold snap might have had an impact.
We had a good strawberry season over here on the west end of the state,but our cold snap was just for a few hours one night.

I got some fantastic ones down near Milan, TN the middle of april and then our local ones came in about a week later.We're still seeing local berries and the flavor is really good. So many years the spring rains 'waterlog' them to the point the flavor is diluted.

We're dry here...I'm having to water everything.
Mount Vernon, KY

May 15, 2012
6:46 AM

Post #9124517

Hi Melody;
I thank you for your thoughts and input into this probem.
I am glad you told me your growing zone!
Ours is 6b.
Our season is a little, tiny bit earlier than yours and yours may have been a little later when that freeze came through? With strawberries - I don't know?

My mother was sick last fall so it is kind of like a blur to me, but I think I noticed a lot of rust on the new patch last fall too. I think it is the variety of strawberries that Gurney sold me.

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