"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Who's Been Snacking On My Sunflowers?

Someone's been munching on my sunflower sprouts!
 I immediately Googled which unwanted guests might be coming to dinner...
 According to my research, it turns out sunflower sprouts and leaves, along with pea sprouts, are like the candy of the insect world -and the culprits could range from beetles, caterpillars and lacewings to snails with a sweet tooth -and beyond.

I discovered frustrated gardeners commiserating about the many ways sunflowers don't live to see their full potential: deer were a popular predator, as were possum, birds, bugs, rats and even squirrels. One woman recounted the time she saw a squirrel working beaver-like at the bottom of a large sunflower stalk, when he felled the flower he took the whole thing in his mouth and ran off. The nerve!

For now, however, I am going to worry about one pest at a time.

On the Helpful Gardener Forum, one reader shared her secret for thwarting hungry bugs. She cut the bottom off plastic bottles and created little fortresses around the sprouts. She reported success: her sprout was intact the next morning.

I decided to do the same.

 I rummaged through my recycling bin and got to work. In order to cut the bottoms off of the bottles I had to use my sharpest garden pruners to get started, then I used large scissors to finish cutting all the way around.

Many gardeners also advised sneaking up on the sprouts at night with a flash light and catching the perpetrators in the act.

 I covered all the sprouts with their private greenhouses, although some had to double up inside lemonade containers, and then covered the bottles with a lightweight dish cloth. I might be getting just the teensiest bit neurotic... (getting you say?)

I am concerned I won't be able to leave the bottles over the sprouts during the day since it has been so hot here (* North East friends, I am not complaining!) - but I am going to see what happens.

Anyone out there have other ideas for keeping bugs at bay? Please share in the comments below!

In other news...the foxglove have finally joined the party! Can you see the little green specks? It's amazing these grow into such large plants!


  1. Bonnie, I can feel both your excitement AND frustration. I take it you have these seedlings outside such that they're getting nibbled on. I get SO frustrated when either rabbits, voles or squirrels get to my flowers. Just one idea...sprinkle red pepper on the soil, and maybe use one of those little wire fences (can usually get at the Dollar Store) to corral all the little pots (to keep the varmints away) if the bottles get too hot. I actually purchased a product from my feed/store called Repels-All (Bonide makes it), and used it, but it was the flowers that were being eaten on my plants.
    I am a member on Hometalk, and one great advantage to it is the forum for Q&A. You can research your issue, and if you don't find the answer, there are a host of experts (and not so experts, admittedly) that will give advice. Last year I had rabbits, hoping they don't return this year. They weren't a welcome guest. On a positive note, I feed cardinals black oil sunflower seeds in winter, and I have, in the last few years, had spontaneous sunflower patches without any effort at all on my part! It's amazing, and I've shared photos and post on my garden in the past (it's a topic you can search, if interested, on my blog, for past posts).
    Hope this helps.
    Rita C at Panoply

  2. Hello Rita! Thank you so much for these ideas! I especially love the red pepper strategy -very interesting and I am going to try it today! Yes, I have the seedlings outside and on a raised surface, so I thought they would be safe but I guess not! I will also definitely check out the Hometalk forum (http://www.hometalk.com/topics/gardening) -and your blog, wvPanoply.blogspot.com, as my garden grows!
    On another note, I also love to feed the birds and am probably going to really confuse them this spring/summer with plants I don't want them nibbling on - they can eat some of the bugs though!
    I really appreciate your comment and promise to keep you posted - Thanks so much and have a great day!


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