Golden Groundsel dying off

Asked September 3, 2018, 10:25 AM EDT

I have a very shady, wet backyard (in Silver Spring). About 8 years ago, we did conservation landscaping and planted lots of golden groundsel. It did great until last year. Most of it has now died off, with just a few left. Some of the remaining ones look brown and shriveled. What could be causing this? Pictures attached are one from 2016 in spring and two now (you can see lots of other weeds, and one struggling senecio). I realize these are different seasons, but very few came back last spring. Thank you

Montgomery County Maryland

5 Responses

We do not know what is killing your golden groundsel, which is a wonderful native.
There are no reports of this problem in the literature.

The leaves seem to show some possible disease spotting. We request that you send us close clear photos next spring of any affected leaves, showing any symptoms you can find as soon as they occur.

We would appreciate it.

Thanks for the response. Now our yews are dying as well! Can you recommend anyone to help us figure out what is causing this (e.g. the soil, mulch, drainage, pests, etc)? Or at least the type of specialist we should consult? Thanks

We have had several questions on dieback of yews. This season has been very wet and Yews do not like wet feet. They grow best in soil that drains well. Check the drainage in the area. Make sure there are no downspouts dumping water in the area. If so divert it. Mulch should be no thicker than several inches and kept away from the base of the stems. If need be, you can submit photos so we can see what you are dealing with.


I had samples from the yard tested and the results (from a lab at Virginia Tech) show many ‘bad’ nematodes and a recommendation to treat. The person who does work on our yard (and who recommended and managed the testing) will apply good nematodes in the spring. He believes this may be responsible for the golden groundsel dying off. My question is: what may have caused the proliferation of bad nematodes? Thank you.

That is a tough question that we think you should pose to Virginia Tech assay lab. What treatment did they actually recommend?

Our specialists say they should be able to tell you the actual names and population numbers of the "bad" nematodes, and what they suggest you do.
(Perhaps there is a disconnect between your landscaper and the lab.)

There is no evidence that putting 'good' nematodes down will work, and that nematode applications are usually aimed at working on insects.

In agricultural sites, nematode management is dealt with by soil replacement, solarization, and crop rotation, none of which would work for your site difficulty.
Here is our page that has the contact information for the Virginia Tech lab: