You all know how I love cone-
I have them growing all around the pond now.
This is my newest one: Tomato Soup. It is just starting to bloom.
This is Hot Papaya. I know the original Purple Cone-
flowers are the best, but this hybrid was planted last year and look how beautiful it is this year!
I dug a few purple up last year and started them along the little pathway behind the patio..
..and I noticed they are starting to naturalize in this area now. Yea!! However, if you will remember last year I did a post on all my Coneflower woes. Since that time, several gardeners have commented on having similar problems. Basically here was the issue: the heads of the flowers got a tar-like look on one side; then the flowers just kind of fell apart, or did not continue to develop. Trying to find the cause, I discovered little worms in the seed heads. I had comments from people in Canada and Nebraska, all the way down here to Texas. Well--the same thing started to happen to mine earlier in spring. I decided to keep a careful watch on the flowers to see if I could determine the problem. As I watched, I began to see these bugs that looked like yellow lady bugs flying all over the coneflowers and coreopsis. After a while, I began to notice that tar looking head again, and after digging into it, I found the same greenish worm I found last year.
I never got a picture of the bug, but this is the closest thing on the Internet I could find. This is a "cucumber beetle." However, after reading about the larvae of this kind of beetle, I don't think this is it. (The larvae attack the roots) There is also a type of beetle called "asian beetle." I didn't think the description fit either. Then there was the "squash bug beetle." One picture looked like it might be the culprit...but again the description did not match my problem. So...folks I just don't have an answer for you. I did use insecticide soap on the flowers, and if I sprayed it heavily, it did seem to work. I also cut off the flowers that were damaged. Once the spring rains stopped, and the high temperatures hit--the problem seemed to go away. Looking back, I think that is exactly what I remember happening last year.
Wish I had better news for you coneflower lovers out there. The bees and butterflies love the flowers as much as I do, so I suppose I will just keep on researching and watching. But in the meantime...I am still in love with coneflowers!
Note: I did some research on aster yellows disease because it is one thing coneflowers are known to get. (It is spread by leafhoppers) However, I did not think it fit my situation. Here is a link to an article that gives good information and a picture that could be some help. Let us know if those of you with coneflower problems solve the mystery!