Thursday, 10 October 2013

Don't be fooled by appearances!

Heuchera Caramel July 2013

Heuchera Caramel  9 Oct 2013
The same plant - different angle, different season and an aquilegia seedling - right?

If I had been asked the same question - those would have been my answer.  How wrong I would have been!

I walk past this plant umpteen times a day, heck I've even been congratulating myself on how well it's done.  This is in fact my third attempt at trying to grow this Heuchera.  I was so pleased that I finally chose a spot it liked.  It made a statement in the shady bed.

Shady bed September 2013

As I walked past yesterday - a quick glance down and something seemed to be lacking.  It was lacking that wee bit lustre it had had all year long.  I didn't think it needed water - it had rained heavily the previous evening but as I bent down to inspect the soil underneath....BINGO!

Have you guessed yet? Did you guess correctly?


Yes, the Vine Weevil Larvae strikes!  If we zoom in closer.......
Underside of plant

You can make out where the main root has been completely eaten through and he was not alone!

For the unfamiliar - The Vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) is an insect pest that infests a wide range of ornamental plants and fruits, especially those grown in containers. Adult vine weevils eat leaves, and the grubs eat roots.  The RHS has a well laid out page full of information on these little devils and how to treat them. The Vine Weevil advice page is available following the link.

I know from experience that I had a chance to at least save some of the plant but first of all it was important to find as many grubs as I could - I removed a good amount of soil from the ground and sifted through looking for other grubs.  You can see how distinctive they are - that little dark brown spot at the head end is a give away!  These grubs do the most damage to our plants.   

I took the plant indoors - to give it a good wash.  I've never tried this with other plants but it will do the Heuchera no harm.  You can see more clearly in this picture where the grubs had detached the plant from it's main root.


A good shake around and look what appeared......

Here she is.....

Vine Weevil Beetle

.....and there she was!!!
dead Vine Weevil Beetle!
The plant was torn apart, there are very few roots to do damage too!  Completely run each individual division under running water making sure there were no grubs that I missed.

Plant divided and ready for potting on
 All the grubs were gathered up - they wouldn't be wasted

Mrs Robin would be very appreciative of such a treat
In the bird feeder
Plenty of grubs and if you look closely you can see the pupae to the left.  I had no sooner turned my back and Mrs Robin flew down and demolished the lot!

In total - I had 10 separate divisions.  I split this lot 50/50.  Half of them were potted up into pots and the others were planted in some shady spots around the garden.  In my experience I have a better success rate of successfully bringing on Heuchera divisions in garden soil than I do in pots.  They tend to settle and root quicker.  I will report on these divisions in a future post.

Facts about the Vine Weevil Beetle:
  • One of the most common and devasting garden pest here in the UK
  • All adults are female
  • Each Female can lay hundreds of eggs usually between April and September
  • Adult weevils cause irregular-shaped notches in leaf margins during the summer
  • Larvae cause most damage and will even gnaw through woody stem bases
  • They do not fly but are confident climbers and crawlers
  • They appear at night hiding in dark places during the day
  • Plant loss is more frequent September to March when the larvae are becoming full grown
  • Natural predators are birds, frogs, toads, shrews, hedgehogs and predatory ground beetles
  • Chemical and nematode control is available
  • Larvae are often confused with slow release fertiliser pellets
  • Plants in pots and containers are more at risk than those grown in open ground
I hope you've found this post useful.  Has your garden been affected by Vine Weevil?  Have you had success in saving/rescuing plants - please feel free to share your method.  I'm sure others would like to read them.

I've been round the garden and given all the other Heuchera, which there are many, a gentle tug.  All seem firmly rooted in the soil but I will keep close eye on them.

As a side note, it's not often I find time to produce 3 blogs so quick in succession.  I'm currently enjoying a week's annual leave - weather is great and I've been potting up lots of evergreens for some winter interest.


  1. Good for you, saving your plant, must go and give all mine a tug tomorrow! It's so frustrating to find the wretched weevil after your plant has been in the garden for a while, lucky your robin enjoys them!

    1. Pauline, you are right frustrating! Unfortunately it's not so easy to control in the garden. If the balance is right then these pests should be dealt with by their natural predators

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    1. Shipra, thank you for visiting and your comments. I'll pop over and have a wee look!

  3. What a beautiful plant, and what an evil grub! I'm glad you were able to save some of this plant, and perhaps you will actually end up with several of them. But what a nasty process to have to go through.

    1. Holley - fingers crossed that I end up with more than one healthy plant. Odds are in my favour I hope!

  4. What a fantastic colour this Heuchera has. I know the grub when I had a lot of fuchsia's I lost a lot of them having the larves in my containers. It's great you noticed it and got the chance to rescue your Heuchera.
    Have a wonderful autumtime Angie.

    1. marijke - it's a beautiful colour whatever the season. It will be sad if I loose it. I've read that they are partial to Fuchsia too. Shame you lost them too. Have a wonderful autumntime yourself x

  5. I've only ever come across weevils in containers and mine end up as bird food too.

    You heucheras should do well as they will often pull apart with no visible root at all and when planted produce new plants. It's why I have ended up with so many of them.

    1. They can be a real pest in containers and thankfully I have found any yet! Birds are very appreciative of some of our pests, aren't they. I'm hoping the odds are in my favour to at least save some. Plenty to share around!

  6. Angie, my first thought was, yes it looks a little more caramelly in October. Dreaded vine weevil, at one time our Rhodies were a helluva mess with notches in the leaves. I used one of the products which you just water in, what a difference it made. I do like your Heuchera and great that you have managed to save it in such a way. They always deteriorate even in the second year with me.

    1. Yes, Rhoddies are another favourite Alistair. I lost a good sized standard plant. Despite my attempts are trying to save it - it was too far gone by the time I noticed it.

  7. Oh bleugh! I've just had my dinner and all these weevils squished & wriggling in your hand is enogh to reach for the Gaviscon!! Damn those blasted critters though.... I hope your wee heucheras make a comeback. I've just recently given all my plants in pots another dose of weevil killer, they really are a menace.
    Have a groovy, weevil-free weekend x

    1. Oops, that'll teach for going online after dinner Jane :) I hope your plants are now protected.

  8. Dickmaulrüssler können, wie man bei dir sieht, großen Schaden anrichten.
    Ich kämpfe gegen hunderte von Marienkäfer-Engerlinge an, die leider genau so gefräßig sind.
    Gruß, Anette

    1. Ich wusste nicht, dass ein solcher Schaden Marienkäfer Larven tun - ich habe etwas Neues gelernt heute!

  9. What a bummer! Nasty bugs those Vine Weevils. You made the best out of a bad do though. Love Heucheras!

    1. I certainly hope I have. I've a love hate thing going on with them.

  10. I keep wondering about the creepy crawlies that show up whenever I dig around. Thanks for IDing this one. I love the idea of feeding the robins as a byproduct of ridding yourself of this pest.

    1. Now you know Ricki! I'm sure your birds will appreciate them.

  11. Oh, that is an ugly beast! I do hope we don't have them in my parts... I have lost heuchera suddenly, will have to check for grubs/weavils. Thank you for the very thorough post!

  12. That nasty vine weevils, I know them too good. In the past we had many fuchsias but also vine weevils, a nuisace.Your Heuchera 'Caramel' was such a beauty, I hope you can save it.

  13. Angie although the plant was severed, you now have lots of transplants to share around the garden...quite a nice ending. I have voles that completely severe the plants just below the crown so there is barely any way to save them ...90% die.


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