Hairy green balls plant (milkweed family) dropping leaves

Asked August 31, 2019, 2:05 PM EDT

After months of beautiful growth & prolific flowering my hairy green balls plant has dropped most of it's leaves over night. Also the leaves that dropped turned yellow over night. About a week ago it got an infestation of yellow colored aphids. I sprayed this plant with dish soap (1- 2 teaspoons in a quart of water). That did a great job killing the aphids. I never grew this plant before (a friend gave it to me as a 2" sprout) and know nothing about it. Can't find it in my books. Please help.

Carroll County Maryland abiotic issues flowers: annuals and herbaceous perennials hairy balls milkweed yellowing leaves on gomphocarpus asclepias physocarpus

10 Responses

We do not have a lot of experience with this plant unfortunately.
Yellowing leaves can often be a sign of too much or too little water.
Has anything changed in that category?

The onset of cooler days could also be a factor, especially if the plants have already flowered and begun to ripen the seed pods. It may be the natural cycle of the plant in our area, but we can't be sure.
The good news is that the green leaves still look healthy and numerous.


Christine

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. With the holiday & all, I wasn't sure if my question would actually get to anyone. Your org.'s commitment is impressive.

Being of the milkweed family, I'm thinking that this plant's lifecycle season would at least be similar to milkweed itself, maybe shorter. I was concern that when I sprayed for the aphids my "dishsoap" spray wasn't diluted enough & I had poisoned it. (1st season gardening, don't have a clue, but doing fairly well overall)
Next day it was obvisious that the spray really did a job on the aphids, wiped them out. The following morning was the big leaf drop. It's been a week now, leaves still drop but it's no way near as bad.
2 days ago I checked & found the aphids were back in mass, millions.

I boiled garlic, hot sauce, and dish soap, after it cooled I sprayed again. Kills the aphids well enough but does stop new flocks of them from showing up the next day. I not giving up (this is WAR!!). Any help about effective ways of dealing with aphids would be much appreciated.

[SIDE NOTE] this is a fairly attractive plant, not a beauty, but nice to look at. Gets it's nick name from its seed pods... Balls a little smaller then a tennis ball, bright green with a kind of prickly looking hairiness. Because there's a pronounced "maleness" to the pod's appearance, they are entertaining in a funny kind of way. Plus, the name.... what's not to smile about. I bought the seedling from a little old lady who just couldn't get the name out because each time she tried to say it, she'd just crack up laughing.
Prolific flowerer, each bloom is only a quarter inch globe, but they hang in clusters and are quite pretty. Note: wasps love them, butterflys like them. Thanks






Like they say, one picture is worth a thousand words...

Like they say, one picture is worth a thousand words...

Like they say, one picture is worth a thousand words...

Hi -- Please refer to our webpage about aphids and the recommended ways to manage them. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/aphids-trees-and-shrubs
Dish soaps are not designed for use on plants and can cause injury to plants. The leaf loss, however, looks more like a symptom of an environmental issue -- potentially too much or too little water, or too much shade. Gomphocarpus prefers full sun and moderately moist but well-drained soil. https://wimastergardener.org/article/balloon-plant-gomphocarpus-physocarpus/

Christa

Thank you. I will check the links provided (and all the rest of the site).

I appreciate the heads-up about dish soap. Got the idea off the web, not a surprise that it's not the magic solution promised (like so much of what you find on the web). That's why I came to you guys once I found you, I knew the info would be trustworthy.
Thanks again

Thank you. I will check the links provided (and all the rest of the site).

I appreciate the heads-up about dish soap. Got the idea off the web, not a surprise that it's not the magic solution promised (like so much of what you find on the web). That's why I came to you guys once I found you, I knew the info would be trustworthy.
Thanks again

Thank you. I will check the links provided (and all the rest of the site).

I appreciate the heads-up about dish soap. Got the idea off the web, not a surprise that it's not the magic solution promised (like so much of what you find on the web). That's why I came to you guys once I found you, I knew the info would be trustworthy.
Thanks again