They are located at base on soil and leaf stem. Not mealy bug. When touched they are dry and tiny egg like. Found when watering. Earth very dry.
This looks to be a relative of slime mold, though we do not have this particular type in my region.
It is likely not a pathogen, itself. These types of organisms feed on bacteria. It can indicate a bacterial infection in the soil, though.
Treating with a fungicide will help, otherwise, the organism itself will act as a bactericide over time.
up ? I echinacea----several plants. I've had them for 5-6 years. first 3 years they did very well, last year no flowers-----just flower heads that never opened. this year, no buds yet but full and healthy leaf growth. for how many years should they flower ? I'm in Zone 6---North/Central New Jersey.
Echinacea usually are reliable bloomers. They do best in poor soil. If they've received fertilizer, they may be getting lush, green growth at the expense of flowers. When you say last year the flower heads never opened, made me wonder about aster yellows. But there would be more symptoms, such as green, grotesque flowerhead shapes; protrusions coming from the bud, witches broom on stems. If you suspect that is the problem, the plants need to be destroyed.
in northern va, just outside dc
They should have come up by now! There are a few things to consider when planting these- They need moisture to germinate, but it needs to be moist and not wet. They need a cool stratification period, as well. I would plant them outside in autumn to let nature do that for you.
Here is an article that will help you with the care of the flower: