Question From: M. Lai - Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Q: Hi Nancy, I'm really sorry to bother you and all and my question is probably answered in the FAQs but I had to make sure. My name is Mindy and I live in Brunei, it's on borneo island. I started migrating my African marigolds after this thing happened, I planted 4-5 marigolds sprouts(?) together in a vertical pot, the 1st to 3rd was quite healthy and it was huge compared to the 4th and 5th even though I planted it at the same time, then for no reason at all, I started noticing the 5th was one just wilted, no reason at all and just died off. Being the newbie, I planted another seedling replacing it's space, this time the 5th and replaced one grew healthily, not long later, the 4th one started to wilt! In the same way the old 5th one did! There was no visible insect that was pestering it's roots so I couldn't well spray it with pesticide. So I just ignored it thinking it was normal that sometimes plants just don't make it. After awhile, the pot became extremely crowded, so I moved them into individual pots (each plant have it's own pot, a big one at that), the 1st marigold was growing healthily until last week (it was 2-3 weeks after migration, so I don't think that was the cause), where it just wilted in the same condition the previous mentioned did, without warning. Naturally I ignored it, I couldn't do anything because of the weather lately, we're in the rainy season, so it just rained heavily everyday (I wonder if the rain is the cause) but tonight while I was standing in the rain observing the marigold, I noticed another big one is displaying the same symptom... I just feel so helpless and mad, not to mention desperate. This is my first attempt growing marigolds from seeds and yet they just seem to keep dying off, I'm desperate to keep them alive but I don't know how to cure it! If you need pictures to observe the condition, I don't mind sending them, anything to keep them alive.
A: Mindy, I believe your plants may have a disease called asters yellow. Sadly there is no cure. However the soil you grew them in is contaminated so I would replace it and sterilize the pots with bleach at a rate of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Do take care not to overwater them. The soil should remain moist but not sodden. Good Luck and Happy Yardening, Nancy.