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Beginner Flowers: what's eating my petunias???

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KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 19, 2007
5:20 PM

Post #3755260

Something is munching on my petunia blooms but I dont see any critters! It must be at night, because in the morning they have holes or are eaten away to half their bloom around! Is there anyway to prevent this?????

this pic is not great, but you'll see some holes, this is actually a good bloom, i discarded the worst ones before i thought to post!

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KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 19, 2007
6:43 PM

Post #3755606

ok, i just went in the back and it seems to be effecting my coneflower and black eyed susan? as well!! What I thought was developing petals are just short eaten off petals!!! YIKES!! HELP!!!!! anyone have answers????

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KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 19, 2007
6:44 PM

Post #3755612

here's another pic

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KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 19, 2007
6:45 PM

Post #3755618

and the coneflower :(

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WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

July 19, 2007
11:57 PM

Post #3756736

Could be any number of foliage eating bugs, on your Petunias, it looks like earwigs, thats these nasty little bugs that have the pincers on the backend, the others could be the same, or slugs, both of these feed at night, so the best thing to do is go out just as dark starts, and examine your plants, if there are earwigs, if you just gently knock or shake the plants, you will see them fall of and scarper away, if slugs, you may need to look at the back of the foliage as that is mainly where they hide till it is real dark, then you will find them crawling anywhere on the plants, some are tiny, others are quite large about the size of your small finger, the treatment for these are different, the earwigs can be dealt with by putting some shreaded paper or straw inside a flower pot and place that upside down on top or a garden cane as close as pos to the plant, the earwigs will hide inside the paper/pot in the morning, then you go out and either shake them into a bucket of boiling water to drown, or a bucket to set fire to the paper, perfill and redo the pot for the next night and keep doing this. for sluges, either hand pick them off at night, and drown as before, or lay out some slug bate from the store, but be sure you buy stuff that is harmless to all other animals and birds as you want to keep encourageing them into your garden as they will feed off the slugs, if they eat ones that have had harmfull poisons, the birds will be poisoned also if you use really leathal stuff, you dont need piles of it, just scatter a few little trails around the affected plants and in the morning, you should find the slugs dying or dead. hope this helps you some. good luck. WeeNel.
KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 20, 2007
2:39 PM

Post #3758457

Thanks so much! Sounds a little vicious burning and drowning!!!! Hee hee!! If it is slugs, my son has a blast salting them and watching them melt! A whole bucket should be fun for him! I appreciate the advice, I'll let you know what I find! :)
shune
Burien, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 20, 2007
8:52 PM

Post #3760050

Another way to 'melt' slugs is to spray them with 50/50 ammonia and water. It does the same as the salt but is better for the soil. (the ammonia breaks down into nitrogen)
glad101
San Fernando, CA

July 21, 2007
5:35 AM

Post #3761451

something that works for me with the slugs is a product calles bug-geta which you can get at any garden center such as home depot or even walmart. weenel is right about the poison though, so just read your labels carefully...but trust me that thing really works but you need to use it 2 times a week...hey weenel thanks for the advice on the earwigs i'll will try that because those little brats are doing a lot of damage to my plants...so thanks :)
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 21, 2007
1:55 PM

Post #3761967

I wouldn't recommend the Bug-Getta if you have pets, it has metaldehyde as the active ingredient which is VERY toxic to pets. They included a second ingredient that's supposed to deter pets from trying to eat it, but I think a better approach would be finding one of the slug/snail products that has iron phosphate as the active, it is also effective but won't hurt your pets if they accidentally eat some.
caligrl1958
Champaign, IL

July 21, 2007
2:34 PM

Post #3762069

Re the slugs, you might consider setting out small saucers of beer. It worked really well in my hosta/lamium/fern bed. While at first I was seeing a LOT of them every morning when I emptied the saucer, now I hardly see one or two. Plus my plants look a lot more healthy and new growth has no holes. I do have a question though for Weenel re the earwigs. Does this pot/paper thing work in flowerbeds, not say patio pots?
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

July 21, 2007
11:15 PM

Post #3763553

Ecrane is absolutely spot on about the poisons that are in some of the bug and slug killers, so please, please, be extra careful of what you buy, you might not have pets, however, when your not around, someone elses pet or even birds might visit your garden, I have a dread of them as I have seen first hand the results of these things and who wants to kill of the good bugs, bees and other bug eating animals.
As for the upside down paper filled pots, you can site these anywhere you have a problem, if you have to put them on a patio area, just put the pot lower down or even next to the tubs/flower containers etc and see if you have cought anything in the morning, watch it dont blow away though, I have never sat them on the grownd as I dont have the need and always placed them on a garden cane, however, if it was going to protect my plant arrangement on my patio, I would just cut the cane shorter and place it in the least conspicuous side of the planter for a while to see if it was working, what can you loose other than some funny looks from your neighbours, anyway, use a green pot or a bright coloured one as the earwigs wont give a toss about the colour and it might blend in better. hope you have lift off and your Petinias are saved, good luck, WeeNel.
jheninger
Los Lunas, NM

July 22, 2007
3:23 AM

Post #3764221

What if your petunias look already dead from whatever is eating them? Is it too late to save them? I am new to NM, how much sun and water do they need if they are in a large pot? Also, how deep do they need to be planted? I am afraid I screwed up all the way around with my petunias!
gardenerme
Orange, CA

July 23, 2007
12:00 AM

Post #3766960

KT: It looks to me like you have caterpillars. I can usually tell that when there are numerous holes in the middle of the leaves, and when the caterpillars are done there is nothing but a skeleton of the leaf veins left.

Some of them can be extremely hard to see as they can be the same green as the leaf, maybe an inch long and about 1/16 inch thick. I believe these become white moths. Anyway, I spray with BT, a very specific bacteria that only affects caterpillars. It works great. I think Safer makes the one I have.
jheninger
Los Lunas, NM

July 23, 2007
12:49 AM

Post #3767100

Thanks, now what about my question as to how deep to plant them and how much sun and water they need if they are planted in a 12 inch round, 1 foot deep pot?
gardenerme
Orange, CA

July 23, 2007
1:10 AM

Post #3767192

Ohhhhh! Sorry! Yes, all plants, especially annuals, should be planted with the crown about an inch aboveground. The most common reason for sudden and quick failure is crown rot, which results when the crown of the plant, where the green part meets the roots is buried. There are a few notable exceptions: roses, peonies, clematis, etc. but the majority of plants need to have their crowns exposed to the air. Does that help?
jheninger
Los Lunas, NM

July 23, 2007
2:15 AM

Post #3767438

I don't know what the crown is! Here is a picture of the pot they are planted in. How much soil should I put in this pot? How deep do I put the flower and how often do I water?
gardenerme
Orange, CA

July 23, 2007
2:21 AM

Post #3767456

Can't see a picture, but I will try to wing it here. The crown is the place where the green part meets the roots, however, if you are still in doubt, check the level of soil of the plant in the container you purchased it in. That will typically mean the crown is exactly at that soil level. When you transplant, the soil in the container should be 1 inch above the surrounding soil. This elevates the crown of the plant, provides air circulation there, and prevents crown rot.

The general rule about soil in a pot is to leave an inch or 2 at the top so that you can fill the pot with water when you water it.

Watering is a tough one. There is no set schedule, however, I will try to give you some guidelines. Usually, you water when the soil is dry down a inch or two, maybe to the first knuckle of your finger. If potted plants get exceptionally dry, you can sit them in a bucket or tub of water a couple of inches deep and let them soak it up from the bottom. Many times when a pot get really really dry, when you water it, the water can run down the sides and out the bottom without ever wetting the roots at the center of the pot. In this case, I would advise the bucket method to rewet the roots. It can be left anywhere from one-half and hour to overnite.

Does this help?
JasperDale
Long Beach, CA
(Zone 10a)

July 23, 2007
3:48 PM

Post #3768884

Every year I plant Petunias, and every year those Cabbage Moth's larvae devour them. I have spent hundreds on BT...but it does work. They also decimate my huge Brugmansia, which is now gone.

I recently started using SluggoPlus...and for some reason, the earwig population has quadrupled! Not a snail in sight, but earwigs everywhere.

Hmmmmmm...
gardenerme
Orange, CA

July 23, 2007
3:50 PM

Post #3768898

You may want to use BT as soon as you plant and then reapply every couple of weeks. Over time, you may be able to reduce the population to manageable levels.

Thats it is a great product for earwigs that you may want to consider. Either that or you may want to find a market for earwigs and moth caterpillars and try to make some money!
jheninger
Los Lunas, NM

July 23, 2007
5:50 PM

Post #3769396

Thanks guys! One more...how close together should you plant them? I think I planted too many in one pot..
gardenerme
Orange, CA

July 23, 2007
5:55 PM

Post #3769412

I always crowd potted annuals because I like that really full look. Then I pinch/deadhead a lot to get them to stay crowded and full.
jheninger
Los Lunas, NM

July 23, 2007
7:03 PM

Post #3769673

What does pinch/deadhead mean...(can you tell I am a beginner?)
KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 25, 2007
2:04 PM

Post #3777306

Deadheading, to keep it simple, is basically when after the flower bloom dies you pick it off! This allows more blooms to come rather than the plants energy going to feed an almost dead flower. If you let the flower go, however, and do not deadhead, the plant goes to "seed" and makes it's own seeds. This is easily seen (for a beginner to get the idea) in a marigold. So you can visualize it, when a marigold goes dead and turn all brown, pick it off and pull the dead petals out of its little "case" or "shell" (I dont know what this is called! hee hee). But, you will have a clump of marigold seeds! Some plants can easily be planted from their seed pods, others need specific care or freezing as they would naturally do in the winter. But, just for example, in easy terms, that's deadheading. I am a cumpulsive deadheader, I hate dead blooms on a plant, they look so much prettier with all fresh full blooms. (until the end of the year when I want to collect seeds, then I let them stay on!!! Birds love when you leave them to snack on!!!!

Now, my petunias! Thanks for all the help, I still have not seen catapillars or slugs or earwigs. Today, however, I think I see some sort of little mite?? too small to show in a photo, you may notice my camera doesnt take the clearest of pics. but i see the tiniest of specs on a few blossoms. I do have to say that despite the culprit, my boxes are giving a great show! they don't look bad and I am continually plucking the dead and eaten blooms, so, I guess, let them eat, they are hungry too!!!! :)

Oh, the post on making money off earwigs, you can do that?? Why?? What would someone want them for???? Just curious!!!!

This message was edited Jul 25, 2007 10:34 AM
KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 25, 2007
2:14 PM

Post #3777334

ps, here is a marigold head and what it looks like to gather the seeds

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KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 25, 2007
2:20 PM

Post #3777357

See!!! Not too shabby for being eaten??!!!! : )

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jheninger
Los Lunas, NM

July 25, 2007
4:50 PM

Post #3777922

It is so funny you say that! I also had those mites! I honestly think I let my petunias parch...they just needed water. I feel terrible. Being in this NM climate, I honestly think they need to be watered some every day. I am going to buy new flowers this weekend. Should I empty out all the current potting soil or can I re-use this soil?
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

July 26, 2007
2:09 AM

Post #3780074

If your going to plant new pots or replace the old flowers, use new compost, you will find the old hard to get wet again and there aint much neutrients in old compost either, so this time as you add your NEW soil, add some plant food, always go by the manufacturers measurements for this as too much will be as harmful as none at all, because you are planting into a tub/pot etc, as the plants grow, they fill the soil with roots, therefore you need to keep watering every day and at least once a week give a liquide feed as they will need that to see them through the rest of the season, also with annials, especially Petunias, you need to deadhead all the faded/wilting flowers as they fade to keep the plant producing new flowers, annials are once a year flowerers so they want to germinate, flower and make seeds all the one year to keep survival going, but what we want to do is stop them making seeds, deadheading tricks them into thinking they need to make more flowers as the seeds have not formed, to deadhead, just run your fingers from the flower, down the little stem and nip this off with your finger, dont rush this till you get used to doing it or you will pull of new buds that are the next flowers, in a few weeks you will soon recognise the old flowers and the new buds, and you will take less time doing it as you speed up, but it will pay off, water, feed and deadhead is really all these plants need appart from sunshine so good luck, WeeNel.
gardenerme
Orange, CA

July 26, 2007
1:47 PM

Post #3781327

Kt: I was just kidding about the earwigs!
jheninger
Los Lunas, NM

July 26, 2007
2:35 PM

Post #3781513

Thank you so much. This is such an informative site! I will be in touch with the progress and see if I can keep this next bunch alive.

-Jennifer
KTsGarden
Ocean County, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 26, 2007
5:23 PM

Post #3782135

LOL!!! THANK GOODNESS!!! :)
beckisbuds
Longmont, CO

July 31, 2011
2:26 AM

Post #8726774

I'm also having a petunia problem, and I don't have a clue. Do earwigs leave little black "dots"? (I don't know if it's eggs or excrement or ???) And do they eat the petals as well as the leaves? I haven't seen any other bug on the plant - either in daytime or nighttime - but whatever it is, seems to prefer the petals over the leaves. Any ideas would be much appreciated...
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

August 1, 2011
12:43 PM

Post #8729941

As a guess, I would say the little black dots are excrement, and the other guess is, the holes are done by earwigs, they are notorious for eating the large buds on Dahlias, roses etc and love softer things like delicate flowers of your Petunia's. the soft foliage is delicious for them too, they are one of the few things that nibble away the middle of petals and leaves but they really do sometimes eat the edge of the leaves too, they are very rarely found by daytime as they are nocturnal and like to hide way down inside the flowers especially trumpet shaped or like Dahlias with there multi layers of petals, but of-course, they hide under bits of wood, in the joints of fencing, under straw and all sorts of litter we have in the garden, dry straw is another thing to stuff into your upturned pots placed on canes as the earwigs just love this as it is warm, dry and they can hide away all day till evening to do more damage, the benefits of earwigs by the way is, they also eat greenfly and other insects, so as they say, swings and round-a-bouts, if you cant stomach drowning or burning, take the straw over to where you have lots of birds and tip the straw out, the birds will love you, ha, ha, ha,
Hope this makes things a bit clearer for you all, good luck, WeeNel.
cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

August 2, 2011
8:58 PM

Post #8733413

Since I put a bunch of foliage plants in the shade of a large oak tree, they're really being eaten. I think it has to do with the sap from my tree.

Earwigs love moisture. Nothing like moving a damp mop and having them scamper.

We succumb to a lot of bugs because I don't use chemicals, and it is too hot to spray the organic stuff.
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

August 5, 2011
4:47 PM

Post #8739143

Plants growing in competition with tree's really do have a hard time especially annuals that have to rely on water, sun and food to get them through their ONE year life cycle'.
You don't say what kind of foliage plants you have under the oaks or if they are in pots, tubs or planted in the ground, it would be highly unusual for the sap to be eating the foliage but, the sap can provide food for things like greenfly, these in turn attract ants and before you know it a vicious cycle has been created without us realising it.
I would recommend you give your foliage plants extra watering, make sure you soak the roots, make sure you wash all the sap off the foliage so the plants can get air, stop the black growth that sap produces and make sure they are well fed as they are getting no sunlight under the trees. hope you get better results soon, good luck. WeeNel.
cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

August 5, 2011
9:45 PM

Post #8739548

I moved pots with sweet potato vines as well as pots of coleus and a couple of potted heucheras. There are a lot of other things planted in this area, but most have bloomed, and I needed to get the pots out of direct sun during the heat wave. There is a begonia and a number of caladium plants that reside under the tree, and they are all quite happy. It is a different story for the coleus, and it does not matter what colors they are. I had put together a lovely plant with 3 different sweet potato vines and 2 coleus. Now that it's been moved it seems to be doing well. I have taken a cutting of one of the sweet potatoes to see if I can it to regenerate with roots. I've never tried cuttings of these before. Have you?
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

August 8, 2011
9:09 AM

Post #8744131

Cathy, you are doing all the right things by keeping a close eye on your plants, moving them (where Possible) to better situation that suits the individual plants, it each season, most plants like different conditions like shade, full sun, drier /wetter soil etc, etc, so I say, well done, as time goes on, you will pick up what your plants are needing just by looking at them, Gardening is not rocket science but lot's of new gardeners think there is more to it than just basic common sense, so your well on your way to calling yourself a gardener, good luck, remember we all had to start somewhere and what we don't know, we ask others, there is always someone here on the site that can help by using plain English and easy instructions, to my mind, this encourages more people to give gardening a go. Enjoy your garden and best regards. Weenel.
cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

August 8, 2011
9:13 AM

Post #8744139

Thanks, WeeNel. We can all learn a lot on DG. I like to look over older posts to see if problems have arisen before. Often a good read.
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

August 8, 2011
4:45 PM

Post #8745245

Your welcome Cathy, believe me, I've gardened since childhood with my late Dad, now well into what is classed old age and am still learning, to me, anyone who thinks they have nothing left to learn is more silly than cleaver, we all pick up hints and tips as we go along with gardening, the main thing is to enjoy your garden regardless of whether it if a large garden or a postage stamp, it's your's and you enjoy, happy Gardening and Good luck Cathy. WeeNel.
cutiepie2
Houston, TX

May 4, 2012
10:19 AM

Post #9110212

I to have had problems with slugs and snails i mix a homemade cocktail of 1 tbsp. dish liquid, 1tsp olive oil, 1tsp alcohol, 1tsp cayenne pepper, filled 16oz spray bottle with water, spray after dark, once a week, and definitely after rain occurs because they hit you hard after the rain. i have also used the ammonia mix 15% ammonia and 85% water or little over a five to one ratio,spray after dark twice a week or after the rain. i have also found they do not PREFER crawling over COTTONSEED HULLS i believe as others have said other places that it does cut them, and COTTONSEED HULLS do not have to be put down again and again as DIATOM EARTH has to be replaced after the rain, and it does not look to bad as a mulch and it does give you all be it small amounts a slow release of N-P-K.
cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

May 4, 2012
10:31 AM

Post #9110221

Cutie, without mixing anything, try a foil pie plate about half full with beer. The slugs get in but not out.
hamptons
Watermill, NY

July 19, 2012
12:05 PM

Post #9211518

The biggest problem I have with petunias are sow bugs. Millions of them. They supposedly only eat dead and decaying matter. Well, they eat petunias too! And they are very damaging.

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