Beetle can cause raspberry plant to wilt

The tips of my red raspberry canes wilted. They've always been so healthy; what's happening? It's not lack of water.

The female raspberry cane borer is a beetle that punctures the cane about 6 inches below the tip to lay its eggs, causing tips to wilt and die. When larvae hatch, they tunnel down the cane and by the second year they are damaging the base and roots. The remedy is simple: prune out all wilted tips below the larvae. You can slit open a cane to see how far they have progressed or just prune out at least several inches below the dead tip. Destroy pruned tips. Also remove wild brambles in the vicinity which can harbor this borer.


I saw the mother of all slugs crossing my patio last night. Cut it in half with a shovel and then couldn't get the slime off the shovel! No wonder my plants have been eaten to shreds. Help!

Our wet spring has been a boom to slugs. Try to modify the environment so it dries out more quickly after rain by pruning, pulling back mulch or thinning plants. There are many predators of slugs, and as slug numbers increase, their increase will follow. Frogs, toads, turtles and birds, the larvae of ground beetles, rove beetles, and marsh flies, and even lady beetles feast on slugs. So keep your habitat free of toxins and diversify plants to encourage predators. Combine that with traps, barriers, and baits that you can find in our online publication, "HG 92: Slugs and Snails."


Each year the bottom leaves of my tomato plants get brown spots with yellow edges that get bigger and bigger until the leaves die, and this goes on until the whole plant is useless. I'm really frustrated!

Early blight and Septoria leafspot are fungal diseases whose spores overwinter in the soil. The spores get splashed up onto the lower leaves of new tomato plants by rain and watering. After those leaves are infected, spores get splashed higher and higher, until the entire plant is infected. If you can, in the future rotate your tomato planting to a new spot with clean soil. To tackle this in the current location, increase plant spacing to improve air circulation. Cover soil around the plants with three to four overlapping layers of newspapers held down with straw or other mulch. If spots appear on a lower leaf, quickly remove it. Spray all foliage with a protective fungicide containing chlorothanonil or copper if it starts early in the season and is spreading. At the end of the season, bag up any infected plant material for yard waste pick up. Tomatoes get other leaf spot diseases, too. See our website publication, "IPM Series: Tomato" for a good chart of symptoms to help you diagnose what you see.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the Week

Wave petunias

Petunia x hybrida 'Wave'

Wave petunias hybrids are a huge improvement over the old-fashioned petunias of yesteryear. A big advantage is that they do not need to be deadheaded or cut back to keep them flowering until fall frost. Their carpet of vibrant pink, purple or white flowers truly earns the name "wave". It can spread 4 feet wide, creating either an excellent groundcover or an addition to hanging baskets as they cascade over the side. Full sun, well-drained soil and an occasional application of all-purpose fertilizer keep them growing all season long. Wave petunias can handle the heat and humidity of Maryland summers. Relatively pest- and disease-free, these sunny annuals will not disappoint. — Debbie Ricigliano