Garden pests

Seattle, WA

Hi, Guys. This has been my worst year ever for garden pests. First, the hideous mildew on my gorgeous begonias. Sprayed an anti-fungal on those, but may have overdone it. And I found that the type I used actually will stain your pavement white. Also, the leaves. Looks atrocious on my hostas. I will try to live with all that.
I really rarely use chemicals in the garden for anything but the masses of slugs and snails, but now I'm prepared to make an exception. One pest makes unattractive notches all around the leaves. Another makes holes of various sizes all over the leaves. I am trying diatomacious earth for the weevils on my rhodies, but the other two I can't even identify. Would you use some sort of all-purpose pesticide?

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Yikes! I don't know where to go with treatment for garden pests but I am watching the thread and wish you well. I live nearby on Camano Island and our garden is so new the bugs haven't found it yet. Our time is coming, I know.

Let us know what works. And if you figure out what the pests are. The holes of various sizes sounds like slug/snail damage but you already treat for that, so I don't know. Maybe show a picture of the damage to help identify the bug?

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

This year was bad for rust on the snapdragons and Hollyhocks here, but last year the snaps never got rust. I ignore it, and figure things that get sick too often will die off, then I will plant something else. although I actually dug out the hollyhocks 2 years ago and planted Eremurus, due to the rust problem. Now I have yellow hollyhock volunteers there...
Anyway, I get bad rust on the snaps about 1 in 4 years, they look good enough the rest of the time to keep them. When they get rust-riddled, I whack them off and they grow back. I tried spraying stuff on the hollyhocks, The systemic stuff worked but I had to do it before they got sick, I can't do that kind of gardening, plus I too worried about using poisons.
I decided not to use pesticides outside, although I do use some on houseplants. I just plant something else. I occasionally break that rule with slugbait- for a newly planted susceptible thing I might use it the first year. After that things are vigorous enough in the spring to outgrow the predation. I never put out any slugbait this year. I saw some baby mice once that I think had eaten some slugbait I put out. I had to kill them they were clearly dying. It made me realize my poisons get in the food chain. What happens to a toad that eats a poisoned slug?
I also think a newly planted garden is sometimes heavily infested with various things-lots of succulent new growth for slugs, small rodents, and insects. Then things settle down.
For the Rhodies, if this is a highly visible on showpiece plants, maybe replace them with weevil-resistent varieties? I asked at my local nursery about the advertised nematodes for that, they said nematodes don't work well here, must be reapplied yearly, which is expensive and a pain in the neck.

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

In my experience, hollyhocks always get rust in the PNW region. The leaves look terrible, but they do put out flowers.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Has anyone tried the Russian Hollyhocks Alcea rugosa? They are supposed to be less susceptible to rust, but only come in yellow.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

I have not tried the Russian Hollyhock but I have read that the Fig-leaved Hollyhock, Alcea ficifolia, is rust resistant. It is single flowered and comes in mixed colors. I hope to try that next year.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

NoH2O, I had hollyhocks in Maple Falls (a hop, skip, and a jump from Everson) and they worked there pretty well. Some rust but definitely not as much as others have experienced. I put tallish plants in front to hide the lower leaves and let the hollyhocks pop up behind with their flowers and then I never worried about rust.

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Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!! And a great way to hide the ugly and emphasize the gorgeous.

What made the rust intolerable to me was that the hollyhock was acting as a generous host and sharing the rust with another plant that I valued. Unfortunately, at the moment I can't remember what the valued plant was but it will come to me, never fear. It will probably be 3am when its name floats to the surface of my mind only to sink back into the muck of memory before dawn but it WILL come.

I checked out Maple Valley on a map and it is just a hop, skip and a jump from Everson as the eagle flies but, like everything out here, it is a long and winding road at best. I noticed Silver Lake on the map; my husband and I like to sing "Who wants to go to Silver Lake?" set to the tune of Bob Seeger's "Fire Lake" whenever we head out that way.

It must have been hard to give up your Maple Falls garden to move to Camano Island. Is gardening very different where you are now?

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Hi NoH2O!

Yes, you don't need plants that are taking out other plants!! I gave up on nasturtiums because of aphids. When I grew nasturtiums the aphids started with them and then moved to my other plants. Somehow, when I stopped with nasturtiums, the aphids never start up in the first place. So I understand your thoughts on this.

Silver Lake is sure nice. I really appreciate a county part where you don't have to pay any entrance fee. We have a little boat we used to launch at Silver Lake, too.

I miss my old garden some but have decided to be forward thinking and start from scratch, use my old mistakes to learn from and make something better this time. Plus, last time around, I made huge labor intensive perennial beds. Lots of them. I really wanted the burst of flowers all around. Now I am older and know that it is unrealistic to continue with this goal. This time there will be a major framework of shrubs and the maintenance will be much easier.

Gardening will be different here. In Maple Falls, we were in a valley and it was slow to warm in the spring, etc. We grew zone 6 plants there so they wouldn't freeze. But the soil was great and we could grow even the picky plants easily. Here on Camano, we are zone 8a or even 8b and our options are wider. However, the soil is hardpan clay filled with tons of rocks. I use a pickaxe to dig holes to plant my plants. It's very hard to dig and is going to need years of amendments to get it into decent shape.
How is your soil in Everson? I am assuming it's pretty good...yes? Got a picture of the ill fated hollyhocks or your valued plant (that you have now remembered) that you are protecting?

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

No pictures of the hollyhocks. They were a light yellow powderpuff, very pretty but the leaves were covered in rust. The plants I thought they were were infecting were snapdragons. I grow a lot of dahlias (100 this year because my neighbor's daughter is getting married) and a dahlia/flower farmer on the Cubits dahlia forum just told me that the rust on snapdragons is specific to snaps only so I guess I could have kept the hollyhocks. I can always get more.

My nasturtiums get black aphids. They are ugly. When they start arriving the whole plant goes in the trash. The only other plants that get the black aphids are the annual poppies. I get grey aphids on my lupines but I love the lupines so much I keep spraying the aphids off. I just use water from the hose. On some lupines one round of hard spray is enough; on others I have to do it repeatedly. I have tried using ladybugs but they fly away. Next time I get them I am going to spray them with a dilute solution of soda pop or sugar water. I read that it makes their wings stick closed for about a week so they stay put, eat aphids, mate and lay eggs. After about a week the stickiness is gone and they can fly away.

Your soil sounds horrendous. I can't even imagine having to use a pickaxe to dig a hole for planting. The soil around Everson is interesting. I am not far from the Nooksack River and I have heavy clay soil. Other places just a few miles from me will be solid sand. There are a lot of sand and gravel pits in the area. I get about 10 yards of composted dairy manure each year. It is great stuff - it looks like dark chocolate cake crumbs and there are no weed seeds at all. When I lived in Ohio I had potters clay. It was horrible. When it was wet you could twist it into a rope and it wouldn't break but when it was dry it was like cement and would have cracks over an inch wide and 8 plus inches deep. It was also zone 5b so temperatures could range from minus 30 not counting windchill to over 100 not counting humidity. It was definitely a challenging place to garden! I could grow delicious tomatoes there though.

This is me with some annual poppies before the black aphids arrived. LOL They were spectacular this year and I have no idea why.

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Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Oh nice to know the snapdragon rust will not spread to other plants.
I also used to live in Ohio, we lived in a neighborhood built on an old apple orchard, we had three apple trees in the yard. The soil was very nice-I would guess a sandy loam, as I recall it being very easy to dig in the garden. I grew tomatoes that could not be easily harvested because they grew up onto the garage roof! Sure nice to have a mild coastal climate here, but I do miss the tomatoes.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Where did you live in Ohio? I was born in Cleveland, moved to Canton when I was ten, and then to Columbus when I was sixteen. The soil in Canton was pure peat; it was awful for gardening. I do miss the beautiful fall color, the lightning bugs, the summer air humming with the sounds of cicadas, and the thunderstorms. But not severe/tornadic thunderstorms! My tomatoes also grew 8-9 feet or more. I had to attach crossbars horizontally at the top of the vertical stakes so they could keep growing and I could still reach the ripe tomatoes. LOL.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

I grew up in Kent. I sometimes miss the thunderstorms too, we hardly get any here. Oh yah and LOVE Lightening Bugs.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Yay for lightening bugs and thunderstorms and fall color!! I am Pistil's sister, so grew up in Kent also. I also lived in a Cleveland suburb in the 90's. Growing up, we had an aunt/unc in Canton, and most of my coworkers are in Columbus. Both of my kids are in Ohio - Solon and Bay Village.
I don't miss the humidity. It's like breathing soup. And I don't miss the bugs. And I don't miss how much rain there is in the summer, so you can't plan ahead to go outside.
Those poppies are awesome!!

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

I actually miss the summer rains; it is so dry here from July into October. I think we have had half an inch of rain since the beginning of July. Definitely not enough; especially with 100 temperatures for several days last week combined with humidity under 20% and a desiccating wind. I am growing about 100 dahlias for my neighbor's daughter's wedding next weekend. Thank goodness for soaker hoses!!

I enjoyed a lot of the unusual insects (like walking sticks) in Ohio. What I am so grateful to be rid of is Japanese beetles. The were the absolute worst garden pest I have ever encountered. I will take banana slugs over JBs any day. The JB season used to run for 2-3 weeks; the last number of years it started earlier and earlier and lasted longer and longer. It was a nightmare. Also the last few years that I was there (pre-2013) a new mosquito arrived that was out all day long. It was the Asian Tiger mosquito, black and white, and in mid-day, steaming hot sun would be out biting. That was a real nuisance.

I do love poppies of all types. Several friends have asked me to save seeds for them so I will have tons. If you would like some seeds, just remind me in the autumn and I will send you some. They need cold weather to germinate so I usually sprinkle them where I want them in Dec or January. Once you have grown them once, they will reseed themselves annually if you don't deadhead them.

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Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

I would like a few. So far have not had much luck with poppies in my clay soil, but would love to try again. I have a Welsh poppy that survives fine in a part shade location. Surprisingly, although I have been warned about invasive tendencies, I have not yet had any seedlings. I have saved some seeds if anyone wants some.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

My soil is heavy clay and they do fine. I would recommend sowing the seed generously on bare soil in a full sun location between December and the beginning of March so they are sure to get the cold period they need. They resent transplanting so sow them where you want them. Some people sow when there is snow on the ground so they can see where the tiny seeds have fallen. I just take my chances!

Send me a Dmail in October or November to remind me to send you some seeds.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Thanks I will.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Those really are awesome flowers! Maybe I will ask for some seeds this fall.
Hey, I remember walking sticks. The first time I saw a "twig" move I jumped a mile. :-)
And those Japanese Beetles are the worst. I, too, will take the slugs any day over those beetles.
Any pics of the wedding with your flowers? Hint hint. Was it last weekend or is it this weekend?

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Just remind me and I will get some out to you.

No pictures of the wedding yet; I sure hope somebody took some pix of the flowers. If nothing else, I am sure there will be some pictures with the bride and her bouquet. It was last weekend. One of the guests brought a date who happened to be a professional floral arranger who was willing to help! The bride's mom said the bouquets and arrangements he made were just gorgeous. I guess he commented on how beautiful the selection of flowers was so that was nice to hear.

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