Our today’s discussion is about Daffodil Plants: Common Pests and Disease Care. Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) and others in this family are small grass-like plants with beautiful flowers. They usually grow in clumps throughout USDA zone 3 to 11. Daffodils are pretty easy to grow and care for. Although some problems can stress you out while growing daffodils. You should be aware of the common pests and diseases that can damage your daffodils. Today we will discuss all those along with possible easy cures, not like the pro way but as a layman hame gardener. If you want to grow Daffodils then Check this How To Propagate Daffodils?
Join me in this journey and find out if my experience helps you or not. Good Luck Keep Reading!
Check out my previous post: How to Keep Tiger Lily Plants Healthy?
Are Daffodils prone to any serious diseases?
Yes, Daffodils especially old patches are prone to some serious diseases. The Basal root rot disease and wilting of flower heads are a few of the deadly daffodil diseases.
Most gardeners usually don’t notice pests like aphids and mites as a problem for daffodils. Though these pests can spread deadly viruses from infected daffodil plants to healthy ones. Even if the chance of viral infection is low, still aphids can lower the immune system of the plants. This can lead to further infestation and diseases.
Leaf Scorch, Smolder, Basal and Neck rot, Fungal patches, Tobacco rattle, and mosaic virus are common and deadly for Daffodils.
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Common Source of Pests and Disease in Daffodils
Although the problem is big their the source is pretty simple. Most daffodil-related problems are either due to overwatering or improper growing conditions. Directly or indirectly overwatering is related to every serious plant problem. The basal root rot and the common fungal infection are always spread with a splash during the watering cycle.
Tiny bugs or pests are the primary carriers of infectious bacteria, fungus, or viruses. Although they don’t do fatal damage to the daffodils. The following problems after pests attack are more deadly. It is pretty clear that if you eradicate these pests then the chance of further infestation is very low.
Do you know what is the ultimate source for pests in daffodils? Again this question has a pretty simple answer- Water. The moist leaf surface attracts sap-sucking bugs like mites and aphids. Overwatering or humid rainy days can worsen this situation. Sometimes over-fertilization or use of immature fresh organic waste as fertilizer can lure bugs towards the daffodil clumps.
These problems always start small but with ignorance and carelessness, they become deadly for the entire crop. No matter how big is the problem, Only 10-minute care every day can solve them before you lose the plants.
Always look out for-
- Infected Daffodil bulbs before planting.
- Soggy soil or soil previously infected with fungal spores.
- Wet organic matter decaying around the plant base.
- Nearby Infected plants That can spread diseases.
How to Avoid Pests and Diseases in Daffodils?
It is very easy to avoid pests and diseases in daffodils. Regular care and maintenance are something that each of your plants deserves. You just need to follow 3 easy steps to keep your daffodils free from pests and diseases.
- Keep the foliage and soil dry.
- Avoid Overwatering and waterlogging.
- Use dry well-aged organic compost instead of a fresh one.
That’s it! Start by keeping the foliage clean and dry even during watering. Avoid splashing soil on the leaves while applying water. The soil on foliage can spread fungal spores to the entire plant. Make an early morning schedule for watering so that excess water can dry out with the sunlight. Late evening or night watering is harmful to the plants and should be strictly avoided.
Next always avoid overwatering. This is the primary source of all plant-related problems and diseases. Always let the topsoil dry before the next spell. Also, check the drainage of the soil or containers used to grow daffodils. It should not hold water for too long. The soil must dry out within a day or two according to the moisture level.
Finally, avoid any fresh organic matter for mulching or fertilizing the soil. These are a few of the main sources of pest attacks. It can also lure bugs towards daffodil foliage and bulbs. Always use old, dry well-aged compost for your flowering plants.
Common Pests in Daffodil plants
Check out: 8 Beneficial Garden Animals and Pests
These tiny semi-transparent bugs are not very harmful to the daffodils. Instead, they lead a path for bacteria, fungus, and viruses that can cause real damage. So you can treat them as a carrier of diseases.
Treating aphids is very simple especially if the problem is not worse. Application of neem oil or canola oil mixed with liquid soap and water is sufficient to kill these bugs.
Sometimes letting the soil and foliage dry is more helpful for aphid treatment. These bugs love dak moist leaf sides. They usually attack and hid on the lower side of the foliage. So spray on both sides and let it dry completely.
Chemical treatment is usually not needed though you can use some mild pesticides to kill and dither aphids.
Spider mites are also small bugs that rely on the plant sap for their survival. It is not deadly for the plant itself though it can cause final and viral disease.
Treating spider mites is easy in the early stages. Although it can become difficult if left unhandled. You should use a neem oil spray to treat these bugs in their early stage of infestation.
These small white fluffy bugs can harm your daffodils if you let them grow and multiply. They feed on the plant sap and lead to nutrient deficiency for the plant. Ultimately it can kill the plant.
Even if it is not severe enough to kill the plant, still it can cause serious damage by luring other pests with the honeydew deposit on the foliage. Ants, aphids, stem borers can become problems in this situation.
Use rubbing alcohol to treat mealybugs. It will help in dissolving the white protective waxy covering so that any pesticide can work on these bugs.
Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails can be disastrous especially for new daffodil plants and the early flower spikes. These creatures can eat an entire batch in a single night. Therefore you should be prepared for them before planting daffodils.
If your garden has a history of slug or snail infestation then treat the soil to kill the eggs. Add crushed eggshell to create a barrier. Also manually pick and throw the initial invaders. Chemical treatment is the last option and is usually not needed if you are prepared for them before the growing season.
Bulb Mites (Rhizoglyphus and Histiostoma spp)
These mites are relatively larger and can be observed with keen eyes. They are easily visible and can be identified with dual dark spot marks. They usually damage the daffodils in storage. Treatment of these mites requires proper hygiene and fungal treatment. Once the bulbs are infested the chance of recovery is low and it will require hot water treatment.
Bulb Scales (Stenotasonemus laticeps)
These tiny light-colored mites attack the bulb. These mites are barely visible to the naked eye and can damage 2/3 of the bulb. They can entirely damage the bulbs even in storage if the temperature is above 17 degrees Celcius or 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Only Hot water treatment is useful in this situation. You should use contact fungicide for storage of the bulbs and repeat them before planting them.
Also read this: Common Succulent Problem: 6 Pests and their treatment
Large Narcissus Fly (Merodon equestris)
These large bumblebees like harmful flies lay eggs on the soft foliage near the soil. The larvae hatch and dig dip into the bulb. It will feed on the core of the bulb and grow large. The pupa will emerge out of the infested bulb in early spring.
This situation is more common in areas where temperatures suddenly rise above 20 degrees in spring. The infected bulb will usually rot and the pupa emerges as a new Fly.
You can only prevent flies from reaching the foliage. There is no reliable option for this especially if you grow daffodils commercially. Instead, you can use nets and fly traps to deal with this situation. Sometimes only Hot water treatment of mature bulbs can kill the larvae in its early stages.
Only precaution can help you treat these bugs. Once the bulb is infected you can’t do anything. In fact, by the time you will find an infestation, the bulb may have died from its core.
The best cure is to make sure the soil and bulbs do not contain larvae. A tiny needle hole on the bulb is an indication though it is hard to see with naked eyes. This should be done carefully before plantation.
Small Narcissus Fly (Eumerus spp)
These flies are smaller than the previous ones. Usually, they are quite difficult to observe. They can reproduce twice or thrice every year. This means they can easily damage the entire daffodil clump in a single year. These flies lay several eggs on the lower end of basal leaves.
Several larvae pop out and dig deep into the bulbs. Usually, you will find only one large larva in the previous case. Here the larvae are small and light-colored. The infected bulb may survive but it won’t blossom. Rather you will see a bunch of grass-like new growth indicating immature daffodil bulbs. This usually happens due to the division of infected bulbs.
Again treating these flies is not very easy. You can use pesticides but they generally won’t work. Only eradicating infected bulbs or the eggs before hatching will work. You have to be accurate with timing and observe tiny green egg clusters under leaves. Scrap them or spray soap and neem oil on them to kill the eggs before hatching. Also, treat the bulbs with fungicide and pesticides before plantation. It can provide extra protection from grubs.
Swift Moths (Hepialus spp)
These flying moths usually lay eggs on nearby plants, grass, and weeds. The egg hatch and the larvae start eating the foliage. Although they are not a major problem for daffodils still you should treat them well. Too much infestation can lead to several viral and bacterial diseases.
So use neem oil or canola oil with soap water to treat the eggs and larva. You can use chemical pesticides if the situation seems worse.
Stem Nematodes ‘Eelworm’ (Dityenchus dipsaci)
These tiny worms are a disaster for daffodils. They damage the entire foliage especially the flower spike. Criplled, wrinkled foliage and deformed buds are common with this infestation.
Initial symptoms are yellow or light speckles and raised lumpy lesions on the edge of the leaves and stem. This will grow into dark dead patches. The infected bulbs will show rotting scales with dark brown color.
Once the bulbs are infected there is no option to save the plant. You can either try to control the problem with Hot water treatment of soil and remaining bulbs or let them fight on their own.
Proper storage and fungicidal treatment help prevent the severity of this situation.
Daffodils Disease and their Cure
Several diseases can damage your daffodils. Some of them are caused by fungal infections while others may have occurred due to bacterial or viral spread. Overall most of these problems are consequences of pests attacks. The plants attacked by pests are left vulnerable to these diseases. Therefore preventing initial pests attacks is the key to dealing with these diseases.
Although there is some chemical treatment available for a couple of these diseases. Still most of us especially the home gardeners can’t spend bucks on chemicals equivalent to the cost of the plant itself. It s simply worthless on a small scale. Also, no treatment guarantees 100% success with bacterial or viral plant diseases.
Check out this list of daffodil diseases. Keep in mind proper storage of bulbs and good sanitation of the growing media is the best tool for curing all of them.
- Basal Rot caused by Fusarium oxysporum narcissi fungus
- Neck Rot also caused by Fusarium fungus
- Smolder caused by botrytis narcissiola
- Leaf Scorch caused by Stagonospora fungus
- Yellow stripe virus
- Cucumber Mosaic Virus
- White Streak Virus
- Tobacco Rattle virus
- Tobacco Mosaic virus
If you are a home gardener like myself then discarding and destroying the infected daffodil plant is the best option. Don’t waste time plants infected with deadly viral infections can’t be saved instead they will spread the disease to the healthy ones. So to save others discard the damaged plants. Always remember not to through infected plants or bulbs in the compost bin. It can infect the entire batch of your compost and next is your garden.
Final Call for Infected Daffodils
If nothing helps with the disease treatment then the final call is to get rid of the infected daffodil. It is good to destroy one infected daffodil plant in order to save healthy plants. Sometimes this is the only true solution. Also, avoid replanting new daffodils in the infected soil patch. First, treat the soil with Hot water mixed with an appropriate fungicide and then plant something new.
You can also dry fry soil in containers to kill 100% of fungal and bacterial spores. This is a 100% secure method for treating soil bourn diseases. Also, treat the new daffodil bulbs with contact fungicide to avoid any infestation.