Garden Help Desk: What's wrong with my bleeding heart plant? 01

A fasciated bleeding heart.

Question: Something is wrong with my bleeding heart plant. Some stems are wide and very flat. Can my plant recover, or should I remove it before the other plants in my flowerbed catch the same thing?

Answer: This is called fasciation. It happens occasionally to many different species of trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials. It’s most common on stems, but you’ve probably also seen distorted or “conjoined” flowers and didn’t know they were caused by fasciation.

There are many possible causes of fasciation, from bacteria, viruses and fungi to insect/mite damage or weather-extreme injury. Something has caused one or more growing points on this part of your bleeding heart to mutate from the normal rounded “dome” shape to a more flattened shape, causing growth with the flattened appearance on the stems in the photos you sent. You don’t need to worry about the other plants in your garden, as this disorder isn’t something that will spread.

You don’t say how much of the plant is affected. If it’s just a few stems, you can simply prune out the affected parts if you’d like. If the entire plant is affected, I’d leave the abnormal growth until it dies back on its own. Those green leaves and stems will still be producing carbohydrates for the plant to store and use next year, even though the growth has been fasciated.

Your bleeding heart won’t necessarily have the same problem next year.

Question 1: I wasn’t paying attention when I sprayed my lawn for weeds and I accidentally sprayed something for stopping and preventing weeds in driveways and parking lots. My lawn and my trees are starting to look sick. What is the best spray I can use to help them?

Question 2: How long should I wait after I spray Weed B Gone in my garden before I plant my squash and green beans?

A: This seems like a good time for a reminder about using pesticides properly.

The most important thing about using a pesticide is to read the label before you buy it, before you use it and again before you store any leftover product. Keep the following questions in mind as you buy and use a pesticide:

Before you buy it

  • Is the pest I’m dealing with listed on the label?
  • Is the location in my landscape (fruit trees, vegetable garden, lawn, home perimeter, etc.) listed on the label?
  • Is this product ready to use, or will I need to mix it?
  • Do I understand all the instructions on the label?
  • Do I have the right kind of sprayer or application tools for this product?
  • Do I have all the required protective equipment (gloves, eye protection, etc.)

Before you use it

  • Have I picked up the right container? Is this the product I need today, for the place where I plan to use it?
  • Is it the right time of year, right time of day, the right temperature and the right windspeed for this product and the pest?
  • If I’m mixing this, am I sure about the measurements (tablespoons vs ounces, quarts vs gallons) and containers I’ll use?
  • If I’m mixing this, how much do I need?
  • What will I do with any leftover product?

Before you store any unused pesticide

  • What are the temperature requirements?
  • Do I have an appropriate place to store this product?

You need to be just as careful with pesticides that aren’t sprayed — dusts, granules and baits, for example, as you are with sprays. If you’ll make it a habit to ask yourself these questions every time you’re going to use a pesticide, you’ll avoid costly and risky mistakes.

The Utah Master Gardeners invite you to join the 23rd Annual Hidden Garden Tour, which will be held from noon to 8 p.m. June 14 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 15. Visit the website for more information, or call (801) 851-8463.

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