What's eating the roots of my pansies?

Asked November 3, 2015, 12:43 PM EST

I have pansies in a flower bed and they are dying one by one. First they wilt, and then when I go to pick them up they don't have any roots. I dug down and found a small tunnel about the size of my finger. Can you tell me what is eating them, and how to prevent that? Thank you.

Dorchester County Maryland

1 Response

From your description you may be dealing with a root and crown rot and/or voles. You will have to look for this.

Look at the crown of the plant (base of the stem) to see if it is mushy. If there are any roots they will be black and mushy and not firm and white. If so, then suspect crown/root rot. This is more a problem in heavy soils and low areas that collect water. All you can do is improve the drainage and do not overwater. See our website http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/root-crown-and-bulb-rots-flowers

Look for voles - a type of meadow mouse that feeds on the roots of herbaceous plants, trees, and shrubs. Look for silver dollar sized holes and runways. If you see this trap with mousetraps baited with peanut butter. See our website for photos http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/voles