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Frost-damaged Daffodils/Botrytis Blight on Tulips and Daffodils

Gail Ruhl, Senior Plant Disease Diagnostician

The tips of many daffodil leaves were injured earlier in the season by cold temperatures (Picture of the Week for 28 January 2002) , however, the plants continued to grow normally and new tissue emerged unharmed. Unfortunately, the low temperatures that followed a week or so later, just as the flower stalks were emerging, damaged the flower stalks and stalk lodging (falling over of the flower stalk) occurred.

In addition, if you look closely at the leaves and flower petals on the daffodils and tulips, you will observe a variety of white to tannish brown flecks and spots. These leaf and petal blemishes are caused by a disease known as Botrytis Blight. Botrytis is a fungus that thrives under cool, moist conditions. Injured plant parts are especially vulnerable to this fungal plant disease, thus cold temperature injury has predisposed many spring flowering plants to this early season plant disease.

Young shoots, leaves, stems, flowers and bulbs may all be affected.  Grayish spore masses will develop on the diseased areas and be splashed via rain to healthy plant parts. Badly affected plant parts can be removed to reduce the spread of this disease to healthy plant tissue.

Click on the small image to view a larger image. (Photos by Gail Ruhl)

Frost-damaged Daffodils
Botrytis Blight on Tulips Daffodil Leaf with Botrytis Blight
Frost-damaged Daffodils Botrytis Blight on Tulips Botrytis Flecks on Daffodil Leaf

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Last updated: 10 April 2002/tlm.
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University.