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Close to home with Mary Beth Breckenridge

Honored plant isn't problem-free

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: February 16, 2012

I was a little surprised to learn today that the Perennial Plant Association has named Jack Frost brunnera its 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year.

The plant, officially named Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost,' is indeed gorgeous. The mounding plant has silvery leaves with striking green veins and pretty little blue flowers that bloom in mid to late spring.

But it's also prone to damage from foliar nematodes, at least in our area.

I recall Denise Ellsworth, who until recently was the horticultural educator for the Ohio State University Extension in Summit County, pointing out the angular brown blotches of nematode damage on brunnera leaves when my master gardener class visited Cleveland Botanical Garden this fall. While the tiny roundworms won't kill the plant, they can make it look pretty ragged by late summer.

Foliar nematodes spread easily in the presence of water, and they're hard to control, Denise noted. In fact, her advice is often to pull out the damaged plants.


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