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We planted what turned out to be a mixture of seeds in our garden…

Joyce Asked

We planted what turned out to be a mixture of seeds in our garden. There is one particular plant that’s come up, which at the moment stands 3 to 4 feet tall with big green leaves and blooms that are forming with an orange/yellow flower (photo shown).

Last week my husband had to dust all the plants with Seven Dust as they became inundated with flying bugs that began eating the large green leaves. He was concerned these bugs would get into the vegetable garden and start eating the plants. It seemed to work, but of course it rained causing a need to reapply. Can you identify the plant and recommend something besides Seven Dust to keep the bugs away?

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The Gardener’s Answer

The plant in question looks like it belongs to the Helianthus (sunflower) genus. The common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) has many cultivars. These ornamentals range in a wide variety of sizes and flower color. It sounds like yours will bloom a traditional yellow, but may not be one of the larger ones.

As far as insects on plant foliage, it is important to know what insect you are dealing with before treating them. Products are labeled for specific insects, and it would be a shame to use something that may not work. Have you noticed insects in your vegetable garden? Insects are host-specific so the ones in your flower garden may not be the same as in your vegetable garden.

Discouraging them is best done by planting resistant varieties and giving each plant optimal growing conditions. Good sanitation practices are also important. If you notice activity in your vegetable garden, there are many organic options including neem oil and insecticidal soaps. Most garden centers will have someone to identify insects, but you can always take samples to your county extension office, too.

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