Suggestions that avoid the pesky Japanese Beetle

SchnooMomFebruary 27, 2006

Last year we planted 5 "wild" rose bushes in a bed about 16 feet long at the base of our deck. We are looking for something to camouflage the opening under the deck (about 3 feet from ground to deck). The problem we learned last year is that the Japanese beetles LOVE the rose bushes. So I want to replace them with something that won't draw the beetles, can handle summer afternoon sun (north and northwest exposure with no pm shade), not be "hedgey", and is fairly low-maintenance.

Thanks. I'm looking forward to fewer beetles and less toxins in my backyard!

Natalie -Durham

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tamelask(z8a NC)

if you liked the roses, you could spray them with neem. it's a natural deterrant to them extracted from a tropical tree. of course, you'd have to spray after each rain. the beetles only last a month to 6 weeks, though.

that sort of spot seems like you could grow a lot of things. if you pick something that's not tall enough for a few yrs, you could run string up & down zigzag style & grow annual flowering vines to fill in behind vertically til your shrubs got big. there's lots of non climbing annuals that would fill that space well, too(cleome springs to mind.) heck, even tomatoes would do well in that type of environ. have fun with it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 10:34PM
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seedbandito(7 NC)

You can also apply Milky Spore to the lawn killing the larvae. I'm so tempted to try it but I do have horses and had read somewhere not to let horses eat the grass. I have more homework to do on this issue. However, it's supposed to be safe for pets & non toxic to humans. I've added a link for you. Good luck.

Nancy

Here is a link that might be useful: Milky Spore

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 4:53AM
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alicia7b(z7b/8aNC)

Blue mist shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis) would work if this area doesn't get very high traffic. The branches can break off easily if you have to push around it, for instance if you stored anything under the deck and needed to get to it. Blue mist shrub likes well-drained soil (sandy soil is best but it can also handle low-fertility clay), gets about 3-4' tall with silvery green aromatic foliage, and has violet-blue flowers in late summer.

Here is a link that may be useful: Blue mist shrub

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 8:44AM
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trianglejohn

Just remember that the beetles like a broad range of plants - not just roses. Hibiscus/Malva family plants as well as rose family plants (fruit trees, blackberries etc.) and they love dahlias too. If the area only has one row of something blooming it will attract all the areas beetles. You could plant something at the other side of the yard to attract them away - but that will only work so long. Some years are bad for them other years are barely noticable.

Milky spore is a great tool but far from fool proof. You have to apply it a certain way and you would need everyone in your neighborhood to apply it also - the beetles will fly miles to get to food. It doesn't work instantly - I believe the cycle is three years. You apply it now and the disease takes three years to start showing up in adult beetles. The disease has many stages, only the final stage kills the grubs. It is not like using a pesticide.

If the beetle population gets large in my yard I just start heavily pruning things. Stuff recovers quickly once the munchers are gone.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 10:21AM
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immrlizard(z7)

seedbandito,

I wouldn't be concerned about the horses eating the grass after you use it. After it is washed into the soil it is safe. The only time I have heard of any problems is when it was inhaled. If you use it right before a rain or water after, there should be no danger to anything except the beetle larva. I was really suspicious when I was told about milky spore. Nothing works like that. I only used it in my raised beds. 2 years ago I treated them because there were so many grubs when I was turning the soil. Last year I didn't find a single one. I don't know if it killed them or scared them away, but I am going to do the yard this year.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 12:23PM
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immrlizard(z7)

seedbandito,

I wouldn't be concerned about the horses eating the grass after you use it. After it is washed into the soil it is safe. The only time I have heard of any problems is when it was inhaled. If you use it right before a rain or water after, there should be no danger to anything except the beetle larva. I was really suspicious when I was told about milky spore. Nothing works like that. I only used it in my raised beds. 2 years ago I treated them because there were so many grubs when I was turning the soil. Last year I didn't find a single one. I don't know if it killed them or scared them away, but I am going to do the yard this year.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 2:30PM
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arwenlurks

Natalie,

Have you thought about using cardinal climber, cypress vine, or other viney annuals? I had an absolutely amazing cypress vine covering one side of my deck last year (thanks to the spring swap!! wow!!!)...

If you want seeds, send me a holler -- I live in north Durham and have been trying to get my act together to plan both types of seeds, and I might have a couple others floating around.

Arwen

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 9:29PM
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seedbandito(7 NC)

Lizard, thanks, maybe I'll give it a try this year. When I was removing sod for another flower bed last year... I found way too many grubs in the lawn. I even found the Jap beetles on my tomato plants!!!! I put all the grubs that I dug up in the bird feeders, the birds went nuts over them!! I must admit, it made me feel good,too!

Last year I was vigilent in keeping them picked off my plants. I would drop them into some soapy water & drown them.

Nancy

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 5:43AM
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brenda_near_eno(Z7a)

4 o'clocks. The JP eat them and die a toxic and fun-to-watch death.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 5:56AM
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SchnooMom

WOW - Well thank you all so much. I read the Milky Spore website and it looks like I can spread that this weekend. Although we have a beautiful Kwanzaan Japanese Cherry tree in our backyard, I feel like I want to limit the plants the JP are especially happy to eat. So I think I will replace them with one of the suggestions - a vine or another shrub - maybe even some herbs - would after-only sun be enough for herbs?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 10:57AM
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arwenlurks

should be, my herbs have been happy with morning-to-midday sun...

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 10:55AM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

I didn't know that about 4 0'clocks! How do you get the JB's to eat them? I've been growing 4 0'clocks for years and have never seen JB's on them. Maybe if I plant the 4 0'clocks closer to plants the JB's are on? I also thought about planting some hollyhocks in the empty lot next to us or even down the road. Thought maybe if I attracted them away from my own yard?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 9:04PM
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markcant

One thing to remember about milky spore is that it kills other insect nymphs as well, such as those of the lightning bug. If you like seeing the little guys blinking on and off as they look for love on a summer's eve, you might want to rethink your strategy. I bought a couple of cheap mosquito nets on eBay and threw them over the plants those pesky chompers love the most, and took 'em off when the little buggers departed. Problem solved.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 10:33PM
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