Solving Snowdrop Problems

Snowdrop Problems
SymptomProbable Cause
Plant Stunted; Leaves YellowedNematode
Foliage Distorted; Bulbs DecayedBulb Mites
Mold Forms on LeavesGray Mold
Bulbs Gnawed; Unearthed Or EatenRodent Injury

Plant Stunted; Leaves Yellowed – the Cause Is Nematodes
Nematodes are not insects, but slender, unsegmented roundworms. Stem and bulb nematodes, which occasionally attack snowdrops, are soil-dwellers, less than 1/20 inch long. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Nematode-infested snowdrops look sickly, wilted, and stunted, with yellowed or bronzed foliage. They decline slowly and die. Their root systems are poorly developed, even partially decayed. Add lots of compost if it is available, to the soil to encourage beneficial fungi. Soaking the soil with fish emulsion diluted in water may help repel nematodes. For more information see the file on Controlling Nematodes

Foliage Distorted; Bulbs Decayed – the Cause Is Bulb Mites
Bulb mites are extremely tiny, about 1/50 inch long. They have four pairs of legs and piercing-sucking mouth parts. Below ground, scales of infested bulbs become hard and a light chocolate-brown color; the pulp dries and breaks up into corky fragments in which hundreds of mites feed. Mite damage also opens the way for other pests and diseases. Control them by digging up and destroying badly infested bulbs, and soaking other dormant bulbs in hot water at 110 to 115°F for 3 hours. For more information see the file on Controlling Mites

Mold Forms on Leaves – the Cause Is Gray Mold
Gray mold is a fungal disease often caused by poor ventilation or by insufficient light. Plant snowdrops in a sunny, exposed location. This precaution should prevent gray mold. If it occurs, destroy infected plant parts. Spray buds and blooms with flowable sulfur fungicide every 3 to 5 days. For more information see the file on Controlling Fungal Disease

Bulbs Gnawed; Unearthed Or Eaten – Caused By Rodent Injury
During the winter months, small rodents such as mice and voles occasionally eat snowdrop bulbs. Moles tunnel through beds in search of earthworms and insects, and then mice use their tunnels to get at the bulbs. Control the animals by lining your planting holes with small baskets of 1/4-inch wire mesh ("hardware cloth") cut to fit.

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