synecdoche
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:58 pm
Location: zone 4, 5

something eating my sunflowers?

A few weeks ago I planted seeds for a Mexican sunflower bush. See, we have a hummingbird feeder and I read that these red flowers really attracted them. We have a mated pair of ruby throated hummingbirds that often come by, and I look forward to late summer and early fall when they migrate south and we get tons of them.

Unfortunately, something is eating the sunflower plants. They've really been growing at a fast pace, but I came out one morning and their leafs had huge gaping holes in them. Obviously I can't spray since these plants are meant for the hummingbirds. But it would really help a lot if I knew what was eating them so I could find another solution. But I can't seem to find much evidence.anybody have any thoughts?

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rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

tithonia

Mexican sunflower is tithonia. It usually doesn't have red flowers. It gets pretty covered with orange, to red-orange (depending on variety) daisy like flowers. I've grown it before and I keep hummingbird feeders. In a yard with with feeders and a lot of other hummingbird attractive flowers, I've never seen the hummingbirds pay the least attention to the tithonia, but it's still nice to have, because butterflies do really like it. Flowers that the hummingbirds like better include bee balm, red salvia, trumpet creeper, honeysuckle trumpet vine, cardinal climber, among others.

Tithonia isn't usually real susceptible to pests (except our groundhog likes to eat ours down to the ground), but the holes you're talking about could be slugs or snails (you won't see them if you look in the daytime, because they come out at night). Put slugs into the search box in upper left and there's lots in the forum about what to do about them. Put a beer trap out and see what you get.

synecdoche
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:58 pm
Location: zone 4, 5

oh well, that wouldn't be the first time the seed packaging has lied to me. :roll: I did wonder about slugs, but I haven't been able to find any evidence of them. Maybe I'll try a beer trap just in case. I have noticed a lot of millipedes and thrips around the house. I put some netting over the seedlings just in case, but it wouldn't really help if the culprit happens to be in the soil. Whatever it is is really wreaking havoc on the leaves.

thanks for the advice on other plants for hummingbirds, though!

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