The latest gift of 2020 is a bacteria called Ralstonia. It's a nasty bacteria, dangerous to other plants, including some important Michigan crops. A few weeks ago it was known to have been in geranium clippings sent to the United States, but now we know the exact variety. It's been found on Fantasia Pink Flare geranium cuttings coming from Guatemala. These cuttings were sent to 288 greenhouses nationwide, but the area hardest hit, with 41 of those greenhouses, was Michigan. This bacteria kills plants by blocking water and nutrients from moving through their systems. The big problem? There is no known chemical to control it.

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According to, once Ralstonia is present, it can be transmitted through contaminated soil, irrigation water, or equipment, opening up the possibility of infecting crops like potatoes and tomatoes. The Michigan Dept. of Agriculture is making sure all greenhouse or nursery facilities who received shipments of Fantasia Pink Flare geraniums are destroying them. This thing is so nasty, the state wants the greenhouses to remove the infected geraniums and surrounding geranium plants and send them to a special landfill, where they will be buried at least six feet under the ground.

Which, of course, is how all the best "zombie geranium" movies start.

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