Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Yellow Asters Disease In My Echinacea–But Wait I have more!

We have been having such a hot, dry summer!  Normally the Echinacea growing in the front yard will hang their heads when dry, my signal to go out and give them a bit of evening hand watering and usually by morning their beautiful heads are standing up beautifully.  But, a few days ago I noticed the Echinacea were not recovering.  A closer look alerted me that among the Echinacea were some oddities.  I knew they were sick.  A quick bit of research revealed yellow asters disease, passed on by leaf hoppers.  We had such a mild winter many hoppers survived the winter.  From the above-linked researched I got the tip to mulch with oat straw! Fantastic, oat straw is what I have.  Take a look at these oddities.  I removed about 30 plants!  But, a quick count shows I have about 70 plants left.  I felt so sad when I realized I had to dig and destroy the sickly plants.  Some of the diseased plants actually looked quite pretty.  But beauty can be deceiving!
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Dandelions and  plantain may harbor the disease.
When I realized I had to dig out so many plants, for a moment I felt sad…I marched from the front to the back of the house (for Ted’s benefit)  humming a funeral march. But it’s ok…What are these bees? They love to visit the Echinacea.  Notice their pollen loaded “bloomers”. 
Grasshoppers molt.  They outgrow their body. It’s the way they get bigger.  Look carefully in about the middle of this picture and you can see the grasshoppers empty outer shell.  We have so many! I find tiny hoppers, medium size hoppers and lately some bigger hoppers.   On cooler mornings they tend to be slower and I admit to catching them and while holding on to their “elbows” placing them under my shoe and stepping on them.  If they hop against a wall, I have been known to take off a sandal and smack them!  But, I use no chemicals.  A girl has got to do what a girl has got to do.  A garden without chemicals is blessed with good insects and birds.  I am just helping them out.
I love our mornings in the garden.  Sometimes I just sit and look.


  1. Gloria, I had never heard of yellow asters disease before this summer, and this is the 3rd blog post about it that I've read in the past two weeks. Your diagnosis that the mild winter helped this disease to thrive probably explains its sudden visibility. (I have an abundance of grasshoppers in my garden this year, too.) -Jean

  2. The insects are rampant right now, and the diseases thrive in the moist heat. We don't have a moment to let up.


  3. I've never heard of this disease. Thank you! I will keep on eye one my echinacea. I liked the picture of the grasshoppers outer shell. At first glance I had to look hard to find it.

  4. Hi Jean - Wow, it must the weather!

  5. Hi Eileen - we have been really dry, but this year I have been watering, so I have probably provided the moisture and nature the heat. I think I will try to water in the morning, at least then the day will dry out the tops of the plants.

  6. Hi Charlotte, I have discovered that if the ground is moist I can pull on the "sick" stem and it comes up with its roots and all. I'm trying that, since the soil does not become contaminated and many of the echinacea clumps are really several plants. Thanks for visiting -