Garden Problems

     While I was gone on vacation for a week, my zinnias developed a problem.  The leaves and stems have turned brown.  When I inspected them, I found small white insects.  I have been very lucky that I have had very few problems during all my gardening years, so I am not familiar with many pests.  I researched several pests on the internet, and my best guess is mealy bugs.  I used a hard water spray to dislodge them, and if that is not enough, I may use a rubbing alcohol and water spray, or a dish detergent and alcohol spray. 
mealy bugs?

     A second problem is that my purple fountain grasses are not looking their best.  They were planted last summer and did well.  I pruned them to 8 inches at the beginning of spring.  They grew nicely.  But sometime in July the seed heads turned completely white.  And then a few weeks later, half of them lost their seed heads and all of them lost their purple color and are now completely green.  So now I have these 4 foot clumps of green grass.  Help!  I have no idea what has happened.  What can I do to get their purple color back, and why did half of them lose their seed heads?

purple fountain grass last summer

seed heads turned white

lost seed heads and turned green


  1. I emphathize with you. My plants have been afflicted by pests too. Are those really mealy bugs? They don't look like the kind I have. Mine have legs that are clearly visible. And I wonder what all those black specs around it are?
    My Gardening book tells me that a concoction of turmeric, soap and tobacco will work on aphids. In fact tobacco and garlic are both aphid repellants, though they work slowly. In case you want the exact recipe, do drop in a line.
    I have no idea why your purple grass have turned green. Could it be a seasonal thing.

  2. Purple fountain grass is an annual in my Connecticut garden, and it behaves the same as yours. I'm hoping you get a good rain, which just might make yours better. I know, I know. Rain's tough for you to come by this year.

    By now you might be thinking: Green's not the worst thing that could happen to that grass.

  3. Looks like the attack on the zinnia is quite serious. Perhaps it is better to remove the dried up plants before it spread to other plants. I wonder why the colour change in the ornamental grass.

  4. Anita, thanks for the tip on tumeric, soap and tobacco. I have two different insects on the zinnias on a second inspection. Some tiny black ones that may be a variety of apids as well as the white ones. I'll probably end up pulling them out.

  5. Lee, Maybe more water would make the grasses look better, but they are watered every other day on the irrigation system. Yeah, they could be worse than green I guess.

  6. Autumn Belle, I did finally end up pulling the zinnias. I was planning on pulling them out by October 1 anyway, to make room for my fall plantings.