Balloon Flower Plant Leaves Are Drying Out And Falling And Stem Bases Are Rotten And Separated From Roots

Question From: New Rochelle, New York, United States
Q: Hi Nancy, I'm having a problem with my blue balloon flower plants. The plants seemed to be doing fine until July when branch by branch, the leaves started to dry out and the branches started to fall down. I'm not sure if the branches started to fall first or whether the leaves started to dry out first. If I gently tug on a branch it comes right out of the ground and the base of the stem is rotten and separated from the roots. Over the course of the first half of July I have lost over 90% of a very large clump of blue balloon flowers. I have another clump approximately 1 to 1 1/2 feet away and I am very concerned that it will become affected as well and that I will lose them all. I am concerned that the blue flower may have crown rot. I have not specifically checked for a foul smell at the base of the plant, but I have not noticed one yet offhand. There is a clump of perennial geraniums at the base of the balloon flowers which is still alive, but it is one third the height of the same geranium which is under the nearby balloon flower plant. There are also a number of other plants which I care great deal about nearby, including some beautiful Japanese irises. I want to make sure that the other plants will not be affected by this disease process as well. Can you help me? Time is of the essence. Thank you so much for your help. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Christine
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A: Your best bet is to remove the infected plants along with surrounding soil and dispose of it in the garbage. Disinfect all your tools with a bleach solution of 9 parts water to one part bleach. I would spray surrounding plants with ACTINOVATE and also soil drench with it. Do this every couple of weeks. Deep water your garden twice a week rather than daily waterings. Best Nancy