Flower Bed Perennials Turn Brown Or Black From Bottom Up And Look Like They Have Been Burned

Question From: J. Johnson - Springboro, Ohio, United States
Q: Perennials in one of my flower beds consistently turn brown/black from the bottom up and look like they have been burned. Some come back fine the next year and others don't. They include purple coneflowers, Shasta daises, flox, monarda, and moonbeam coreopsis. I've cut them off, replanted, fertilized, rewatered over the last 5 years. Don't know what it is or what to do. What is it?

A: You're killing them with kindness girl. First look at your drainage. Wet soil causes disease. Once established these plants are drought tolerant and can go a week  or  more without water.These plants are not heavy feeders. Some folks just use compost. I scatter a few handful of organic fertilizer on the beds in spring. That's all. Excess fertilizers produce disease prone plants. Stop watching the TV ads that show folks hosing down their gardens with fertilizer. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy