Saturday, September 8, 2018

What's eating my liriope?

Image of damaged liriope #1

Image of damaged liriope #2

Image of damaged liriope #3

Image of damaged liriope #4

Image of damaged liriope #5

Q. Hi John! I was watering the liriope plants yesterday that I purchased from you this past April, and while the plants were in great shape, I feel it has been an embattled operation trying to get these plants to thrive. I've spent a small fortune on chemicals, devices, animal sprays, slug killer, etc. and an enormous amount of time, but I still have not figured out what is eating my plants down to the ground. Of the 50 that I planted, at least half of them have been eaten completely down to the ground. Another friend suggested that I throw moth balls around each plant to keep animals away, and I think that was a very bad idea, because I saw a lot of dead leaves on the plants after the fact.

So I am hoping that next year they will all come up and grow beautifully. I saved 5 or 6 of the plants which I will keep in my house over the winter. I'll use these in places where plants didn't make it through the winter. 

The only animals I see regularly in my front yard (and I Iive in a suburban development) are squirrels. I still have not determined what is eating these plants to the ground, and I am sooooooo disappointed because they are beautiful when thriving.

A. I think slugs are the culprits, for the following reasons:

Looks like there are plenty of places for them to hide, e.g. under mulch, the edging, etc. Such hiding places also provide a moist environment for them.

You don't see them during the day. Slugs like to feed at night.

Slugs usually attack the middle of broad leaves, and sometimes the edges. But liriope doesn't have broad leaves, so it stands to reason that the edges are being eaten.

Liriope grows close to the ground, easily accessible to slugs.

If the damage is limited to these plants within the mulch bed, not evident on shrubs or trees, it points to slugs. Insects capable of flight would eat some tree and shrub leaves, too.

I don't believe deer or rabbits are eating them. They wouldn't just eat the leaf margins, but the entire leaves.

Yes. It looks like slugs.

R. Well I initially treated them for slugs at your suggestion, but I guess it wasn’t long enough.

A. Yes. It takes a bit of sleuthing to finger the culprits. Since they didn't leave calling cards, we have to deduce. I could be wrong, so I appreciate you allowing me to share your photos to see if someone has a better idea.

Thankfully, liriope is a tough plant. As long as the roots are viable, it can regrow. Eventually, of course, if a plant is deprived of food via photosynthesis due to leaf loss, it can succumb. But one of your photos seems to show young foliage emerging.

Dear Reader, take a look at the photos provided. What do you think is eating the liriope? Does it look like slugs to you? We'd love to hear from you. Tell us what you think in the comment section.