|Solving Baby's Breath Problems|
|Leaves Discolored; Distorted||Leafhoppers|
|Leaves Mottled; Blotched||Botrytis Gray Mold|
|Crowns and Roots Rot; Odor Present||Crown Rot|
|Powdery Spots On Leaves||Rust|
|Flowers Yellowish; Shoots Spindly||Aster Yellows|
The following pest control recommendations stress products that selectively kill target pests without harming other insects in the yard. Use all pesticide products with care. Read and follow the instructions on their labels for use, storage and disposal.
Leaves Discolored, Distorted indicates Leafhoppers
The aster leafhopper is 1/8 inch long, greenish-yellow with six black spots. Immature insects (nymphs) are grayish. The pests spread aster yellows disease that they pick up in the spring from feeding on infected wild plants. Affected baby's-breath leaves become finely mottled with white or yellow spots; they eventually shrivel and drop off. Cover early-spring plants with an agricultural fleece barrier, called floating row cover or Reemay, and apply a preventive spray of a neem insecticide to all stem and leaf surfaces during the first month of their growth. Later, spray insecticidal soap on the leafhoppers to control any serious infestations. For more information see the file Controlling Leafhoppers
Leaves Mottled, Blotched due to Botrytis Gray Mold
This fungus attacks foliage of plants in cool, damp locations. Control it by thinning plants to improve air circulation, moving them to a sunnier location, or improving drainage. Pick off damaged leaves and dust the plants with powdered sulfur. Dig up and discard individual plants that seem to catch this disease year after year. For more information see file on Dealing with Fungal Disease.
Crowns and Roots Rot; Odor Present means Crown Rot
Crown and root rots, caused by soil-dwelling bacteria and fungi, are the most common diseases of baby's-breath. Suspect it if no shoots appear in spring. This bacterium attacks the crown, the thick area where the root system meets the base of the plant at the soil level. It causes a few spots on the crown at first, and then spreads to the entire crown, turning it to a smelly mush. Then it may be invaded by fungus. If the plant is already in leaf, the lower leaves are discolored and the young shoots begin to wilt. The roots may be blackened, rotten and covered with white fungal threads. The whole plant dies in a few days. Remove and discard in the trash any infected plants and the soil immediately surrounding them. Before replanting in the same place, enrich the soil with compost that has fungus-fighting qualities. Thoroughly cultivating around plants allows the soil to dry out and hinders the spread of the fungus. The disease is most likely to occur in a late winter thaw when dead leaves decompose on ground and harbor bacteria and fungi that spread to healthy tissue. Keep winter mulch away from plant crowns to reduce problems. For more information see file on Dealing with Fungal Disease.
Powdery Spots On Leaves indicates Rust
Rust diseases caused by various fungi occasionally attack the leaves of baby's-breath. They produce pale areas on upper leaf surfaces, with powdery pustules directly beneath. Plants may be stunted and yellowish with curled-up leaves. Remove and destroy diseased plants and all debris before growth starts in the spring. Prevent rusts with periodic sprays of wettable sulfur, begun several weeks before rust normally appears. Space plants widely apart for good ventilation, and avoid wetting foliage when watering. For more information see file on Dealing with Fungal Disease.
Flowers Yellowish, Shoots Spindly due to Aster Yellows
Aster yellows is caused by a mycoplasma-like organism, similar to bacteria. Leafhoppers and aphids spread the disease. Afflicted baby's-breath turn greenish-yellow, and become stunted or dwarfed. Leaves are often spindly. Flowers turn yellow, and may be dwarfed or aborted entirely. Infected plants wilt and die early. Remove and destroy affected plants. Spray stems and foliage surfaces of healthy plants with a neem insecticide 2 or 3 times every 7 to 10 days to kill pest insects that carry the disease.