wilting lupines

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Caroline, Jun 3, 2003.

  1. Caroline

    Caroline Member

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    Monrovia, CA
    I received several bare root lupines by mail order. The roots were a bit moldy, but I thought nothing of it. The mold was a light grey, furry type.

    I planted them, and they began to grow vigourously.

    However, now some of them are starting to show severe wilt, usually associated with just one or two shoots of the plant, not the whole thing.

    On digging them up, I find that the roots are almost gelatinous.

    Nonetheless, many of the plants are flowering.

    And advice on how to proceed?

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  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Vancouver, Canada
    Your lupines were infected with grey mold (Botrytis cinerea), an exceptionally common fungus that infects everything from strawberries to geraniums. Botrytis spores are ubiquitous, and are often picked up when plant tissues touch the ground. In general, botrytis infects only senescing (dying) tissues (i.e., the fungus is saprophytic), but once established, it often becomes pathogenic (disease causing).

    Mail order nurseries usually guard against botrytis by removing all soil material from roots and by using inert materials, such as excelsior or styrofoam chips for packing. However, even the best efforts will not prevent some fungal activity, particularly if plants are fleshy, moist, kept in the dark and without air circulation for long periods.

    Gelatinous rots usually suggest bacterial infections -- again, these are primarily secondary pathogens (i.e., they don't start disease, but they may eventually finish the plant off). Such bacteria are, like botrytis, ubiquitous and opportunistic.

    Lupines have nice, fleshy crowns where these pathogens can easily become established. Sometimes, plants are able to grow out of such attacks, especially where the soil is well-drained, but often, these plants continue to decline until they collapse completely.

    If you can show that it was through the nursery's negligence that the plants were infected when they arrived, you may be able to receive a credit for the plants. Such claims are normally made immediately upon receipt, however.

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