hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Garden Mystery; Help?

I have a lot of sunflower seeds left over from a big sunflower a couple of years ago.  I tested their germinability last month on a paper towel and found them about 80% willing to germinate.  I put them in small pots and they did indeed grow nicely (indoors).  In early May, I sent three such 5-inch-now plants outdoors to brave the weather.  And they've done OK.

So, I sowed a few seeds directly into the soil.  It was rainy, then it was warm, and they started to appear above surface within a few days.  And then, the next morning when I went to check on them, I couldn't see anything.  Next day, same thing.  So, I figured the slugs were eating them instantly, leaving no sign except a tiny, almost invisible stalk.  I went back to planting the seeds in pots in a safe place.

One such pot surged ahead and quickly developed height and leaves (4 of them).  Yesterday, I transplanted it into the garden along with a couple of lupine well-started plantlets.  I carefully surrounded each plant with blue slug crystals (terrible stuff, I know, but the only way to effectively deal with slugs and tiny plants in this part of spring).  The lupine plants are about 4-5 inches tall; the sunflower about 3-4 inches tall with two 1.5 inch long first leaves and 2" long true leaves.

This morning, I check them out.  The lupine plants are fine, looking just like I left them.  Some slug trails visible but no damage to the lupines.  A dead slug, as well.  The sunflower, however, has disappeared.  A tiny bit of stalk is left standing, but no sign of the rest of the stalk and leaves.  And then I notice, a full foot away, the four leaves of the sunflower, the poor decapitated sunflower.  The slugs have clipped it off but not eaten it and then have moved it a foot away?  I don't think so.  But I don't know what to think.

A bird might have dug up around the plant looking for the seed, but the soil is not at all disturbed and the bottom of the stalk is still there.  Raccoons just like to mess around with my stuff, but they leave a mess and there is no mess here.  Slugs would surely have taken out the lupines as well as the sunflower, but I don't see them carrying the leaves around and dumping them over with the lupine.

What kind of terrorist-enemy am I dealing with here?  Help!

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