I have three and a half acres of flowers. This year the tops of all my plants are turning white, even my vegetable garden. They are not dying. Do you know what’s causing this?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Mildred in North Carolina: To be honest, this is not a situation I have ever encountered, but ruling out other possibilities it has to be due to environmental conditions. In some cases the soil pH can change the bloom color but you are dealing with such a large garden and I assume many different plants, so we can rule this out as well. Insects and diseases that affect our plants do not jump from one plant to the next. They all have their own issues specific to each genus/species. This is why it only makes sense that it is something environmental, the most likely cause being an herbicide drift because you are dealing with such a large garden space. Is it possible that a neighbor, potentially a farmer, sprayed an herbicide earlier this spring? If so and they happened to do so on a windy day as your plants were emerging, this could have caused tip chlorosis. Injury symptoms are what you described as the tips of your plants appearing white or bleached out but the rest of the plant appearing healthy. If this is what happened the roots are perfectly healthy, but the top part of the foliage has lost its pigment. For a positive diagnosis you can take samples to your County Cooperative Extension Service for them to send off for analysis.