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Problem with columbine leaves

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

I think I might have posted this message somewhere on DG but cant' find it so I'll try again. I have a problem with the leaves of all the columbines. They are all in full bloom but all the leaves are blotchy, hardly any green to them, kind of whitish. I understand from an internet search that columbines are very susceptable to powdery mildew. I just went out to feel the leaves but the dew is still on them and they are wet still. Could it be all the rain we have had lately? One weekend it was 3 in. total rainfall. I have some Bayer product that says it is good for powderly mildew and other diseases. I can make up a solution using baking soda and spray. I don't have any horticultural oil to add to that solution and don't want to go out and buy it either because I have so many products already here that I haven't used a lot after I bought them. You only have so much storage space.

Any suggestions or recommendations for this problem. I first thought it might be because I had sprayed with Liquid Fence after seeing the deer walking around one night.

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

Add vegetable or olive oil to your baking soda. It won't stick well otherwise.

Are you sure the leaves don't have leaf miners? Very, very common on columbine.

Take a look at google images for leaf miners on columbine. I tried to link it, but it won't let me.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Polly, I was hoping some veteran gardeners would respond. I will google leaf miners..I thought I remembered mixing up something similar last year for my rose bushes. Do you think that Liquid Fence would have anything to do with them, but then everything else would be looking the same, right? What if I cut them back to their basal plant and let them grow back, would that solve the problem? You know how fast they grow and reseed.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I've often used Liquid Fence and never had the problem. I do cut them back to the base and they spring back beautifully.

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

I've never used liquid fence. I have the Scarecrow that gets rid of the rabbits and deer. Much more cost effective in the long run. But anyway, I doubt that would hurt the plant.

Can you post a picture of a leaf for us? The leaf miner is extremely common, though, so it might be that. I don't think the leaf miners hurt the plant, other than making them unsightly.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

I just went outside to examine the leaves of the columbine and underneath, I'm finding teeny, tiny things that look like red/brown dots on the underside of the plants. If you were to take a pencil and make a period, that's how small they are. Does this give you a better description. The top side of the leaves are blotchy, greyish/white color and some are looking like they are dying.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Red brown dots on the under side of leaves sounds like spider mites. If you can, I'd start by hosing off the plant thoroughly (make sure to get the under sides), then apply pesticide of choice (as long as it lists spider mites on the label), making sure to spray the undersides of the leaves. They don't like wet or humid conditions though so if you've had a lot of rain lately I'm surprised you would have them.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Is there a site that would show what these spider mites look like? What if I cut the plant down to the basal crown/plant, and spray that, would it help? I don't want whatever it is to wipe out the rest of the flowers in the flowerbed. The tulips and daffs are finished blooming so I'm not worried about them, there is an azalea planted in front of the columbines,and it's blooms are faded, but not dried up. There's rocket snapdragons and dwarf fairy candytuft about to bloom.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Thanks for that site information. Should I just cut the plants down and spray it well and let them come back on their own? If I continue to spray the plants even after they have been cut back, does that help in the future? I mean columbines are so easy to grow and they reseed and I have some seeds that I haven't even planted of Rocky Mountain Blue and a yellow one(yellow spotlight) and I think I have some seeds from my plants from last year that can be sown. Should I spray all of the other plants that have not bloomed yet, but have buds forming?

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

Leaf miners are more common, but the cure is going to be the same. Look at this picture on this website of the red and brown dots:


Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

I have Bayer 3 in 1 insect and disease control spray. The spray bottle was almost empty so I had a full bottle of the concentrated that I mixed up and filled my spray bottle full and sprayed the tops and as much of the bottom leaves as I could get to. What mixed up solution I had left that wouldn't fit into the spray bottle I filled a 1/2 gal. milk jug up and put duct tape across the front and wrote what the contents were in it and put it up in cabinet with the rest of the garden stuff.

How often do you think I should spray and do you think the leaves will green up again this season?

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

We had a storm last night before I went to bed with hard rain, do you think I'll need to spray that insect spray again today after it dries off?

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

Honestly, I don't agree with the other two posters. I think they are probably leaf miners, which are very common on columbine. Leaf miners make the leaves look ugly, but won't harm the plant. Most people do nothing about them. You get them some years, and not others. So, I would not even recommend a spray. Some years we get them here really bad, other years not.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Pippi specifically asked: Is there a site that would show what these spider mites look like?

That is why I posted the Google page for her to view the spider mites.

We have the leaf miners on columbines more often in light shade than those in full sun. If it annoys me I just cut them back.

I do agree with Polly about the spraying.

Decatur, GA(Zone 7b)

I love my columbines and, like pirl, when the leaf miners are evident I cut them back. I'm now getting a 2nd flush of growth on those I cut back earlier.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Thanks to all who responded to my plea for help with my Columbine problem. That foliage is so ugly but I've sprayed last night and I heard from Bayer and they mentioned that a treatment is supposed to last 30 days. Lesson learned. The columbines have always done super there but about 3 weeks ago we had 3 in. of rain over a 24-30 hr. period, plus more since then and it freaked me out to see my plant without any green foliage. I didn't want it to spread to other plants in that bed. Maybe it is time to move those columbines to another location, where they will be less crowded. I've got a lot of yard work planned for the Fall. Guess I will add the columbines to the list.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Well, the columbines don't seem to be growing much this year despite all the rain we have had. They are planted under the eaves of the house so unless rain is blowing on them, they don't get much.. Yesterday I decided to cut them all the way back and today I moved and transplanted one columbine..boy, they have long tap roots! Moved it to front of bed and fed it Miracle gro planting and transplanting starter solution, plus watered it well and mulched around it. I figured I'd play the "Trial and Error" game..
Will probably move some more that don't get any rainfall too, even though we had 1 1/2 in. last evening with thunder and lightning.

Also took a chance and transplanted rose campion while in bloom. Applied same procedure and product. I have more seeds if the transplant doesn't work.

Lauren's grape poppy is beautiful but the rain ruined a lot of bloom on the poppies last night.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

The columbine that I cut back, dug up and transplanted has put out new growth already and tonight, we have a storm with lots of rainfall. Yeh! We really needed it. For the last 5 days, it's been 89-95 degrees. This hard rain will help things grow but also help the oriental poppies petals fall off. Oh well, I'm more thankful of the rainfall than the poppy blooms.. It will help cool things down too.

The rose campion that I transplanted while in full bloom is alive and kicking and still in bloom. Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe I should sprinkle some rose campion in that same area and work them into the soil.

Now that I've seen that one columbine come back to life by cutting it back, and moving it, I think I'll do the others. With the tulip and daff foilage finished, I need to get some annuals to fill in for more color in the flowerbed in front of living room window. The only annuals I have are the dwarf fairy candytuft which reseeded itself from last year and it is so pretty and in my favorite shades of purple. Come to think of it, I have some seeds I collected from those plants last year..as soon as I get this bed cleaned up more, I could direct sow some seeds in other end of the flowerbed. Don't know if they will bloom this summer or not..I'll have to try to find my notes on those.

What are your favorite flowers this spring so far?

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