Everything is dying

Asked July 29, 2019, 7:20 PM EDT

Hi, I hope you can help. The plants in my garden (perennial and annual) are all starting to die. It starts on the bottom leaves dying and works it’s way up. Some plants a whole stem will die before it starts on the others, what is strange is I have a group of annuals and two will completely die but the rest are fine. It is spread out all over the garden even across the yard from each other. Thank you for your advice,

Calhoun County Michigan

5 Responses

Thank you for your question. There are several possibilities. First, the garden may have had an herbicide sprayed or applied in the soil that is killing them. Second, if you have any kind of walnut trees, the chemical in them (juglone) may be stunting and/or killing them. I see you have lots of mulch around them. Could that be from one or more walnut trees? Could the mulch have an herbicide on it? Third, your soil may have some severe nutritional deficiency which you can get tested for: https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/dont_guess_soil_test_get_your_home_lawn_and_garden_soil_test_kit_today Hope this helps. Good luck!

Hello again,

Besides the suggestions from Kristena, here is some additional information

This looks like fungal diseases affecting the plants. The phlox looks like it has powdery mildew. The coneflower may be too wet or too dry, either extreme can cause the leaves to dieback.

Fungal diseases can become an issue when plant leaves stay wet too long. Water so that the leaves don’t get wet at all, by watering from below with soaker hose or directing hose spray so it wets soil only. If that isn’t possible, water early in the day so leaves dry before nightfall.

Too soggy a soil and mulch piled on the stems will cause root rot and dieback. Some plants are more sensitive to this than others. Keep mulch around the stems in a circle, but pulled back so it doesn’t touch stems.

As soon as the first lower leaves start to show off color, clip them off and discard them. Keep all dead debris cleaned up. Work around the plants when they are dry. . Do not mulch the crowns of plants- pull the mulch back from the stems.

During hot weather, 78 degrees and above, give enough water to keep soil moist but not soggy. Check soil after you water by pulling back mulch in one or two areas, dig down and see if soil is moist at least 4-6 inches down.

You can submit a couple samples of plant stems with live and dead leaves still attached. to MSU Plant Diagnostic lab. They will identify which fungal diseases are present and suggest fungicides that can help.

There is a fee for the service- https://pestid.msu.edu

Here are articles that give you a general guide for treating plants with fungal diseases. If any plants involved are to be eaten, you must use a product labeled for edible plants. Please follow all label directions and precautions when using chemicals.




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Thank you, both for your responses. I do believe I have a fungus and unfortunately It didn’t occur to me early on when it started to clean my clippers in between plants so I believe I helped spread it. I definitely will use your suggestions for watering and plan to try to install some drip line next year. I’ve struggled with powdery mildew every year but it’s usually confined to my zucchini and a few flowers not this widespread.
Thanks again
thanks again

You are welcome, I am glad you figured it out. This wet spring made fungal issues are wide spread problem. Regards