The Secret to Fending Off Flower Fatalities

Like turfgrass disease, flower maladies cause the most trouble in yards that are heavily treated with chemicals. But they can strike even the best-tended gardens. Fortunately, it’s easy to stop many of them in their tracks — without resorting to potentially dangerous substances that can lead to more woe than you’ve already got. The secret is simple: Take a good look at each plant every day (or as close to it as you can), and if you spot any of the following symptoms, take action right away. Don’t dawdle — even a short delay could spell the difference between a minor challenge for you and a major disaster for your plants.

Spots on leaves. Pick off all the marked leaves and toss them in the trash — not in your compost bin!Mottled green-and-yellow leaves that are crinkled or curled up. These are signs of viruses at work. There is no cure, so pull up infected plants and throw them away immediately.

Yellowed leaves, stunted plants, and/or wilting. These may be disease symptoms, or they could signify the presence of pests, cultural problems or nutrient deficiencies. If a dose of a good all-purpose organic fertilizer doesn’t solve the problem, call your local Cooperative Extension Service and ask for help.

Keep your annual flowers blooming strong all summer long with my Flower Power Tonic:

  • 2 gallons of warm water
  • 1 cup of beer
  • 2 tablespoons of ammonia
  • 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid
  • 2 tablespoons of fish emulsion
  • 2 tablespoons of whiskey

Fill a watering can with warm water, and then pour in the beer, ammonia, dishwashing liquid, fish emulsion, and whiskey. Add the corn syrup and instant tea granules, and mix well. Drench your annuals with this mixture every three weeks.