Pests. Arrgggh.

erictMay 28, 2008

My gardenia has already fought spider mites months ago. Now, some leaves are bitten off, and the general "there's spotty stuff on the leaves" look is back. (Proceeds to spray plant with heavy pesticides).

The very same day, a minirose (keep in mind they are both outdoors and in pots) had about....75% of it's leaves munched on. Grey spots are everywhere any will turn into holes.

I want every insect within five feet of these plants turned to dust. How do I do it?

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

A Star Trek Phaser Gun perhaps? No, hu? Ooooookay.

Some suggestions:

* in mid-to-ate March, release parasitic wasps, lady beetles or lacewings. These are natural predators of aphids. Go easy on pesticides as these also kill the aphids predators, leaving your garden defenseless.

* try knocking the aphids off with a very strong spray of water to get them in control (and this will also wash off the honeydew, if present). Most of the aphids will not be able to return to the plant as their bodies are easily damaged by the water spray. It is best to do this early in the day to allow plants to dry more rapidly and avoid conditions for fungal diseases.

* fungal problems can be minimized using cultural controls: in the mornings, water the soil instead of the plant leaves; add 3" of mulch through the drip line; replace all the mulch if there is a heavy problem with fungal infections; water when absolutely necessary; pick up plant debris from under the shrub; separate shrubs to increase air flow between plants; use drip irrigation if possible.

* to keep the soil moist, start with the manual method first. Once a day, insert a finger into the soil to a depth of 3-4" and determine if the soil feels dry, almost dry, moist or wet. Water only if the soil feels dry or almost dry. Observe how often you water by writing notes in a calendar. After a while, stop checking manually and water based on the frequency that you were using (every 2/3/4/5 days). Recheck manually when the temperatures change 10-15 degrees and stay there.

* many pests only come out at night so try checking in the evenings, specially under the leaves and all around and below the pots.

* grey spots are also hard to diagnose without a picture. "Real" grey spots are caused by fungal infections like anthracnose or powdery mildew.

It is incredibly important to correctly diagnose the cause of all these individual problems. Otherwise, you end up purchasing items that (1) do not solve the problem and (2) that could have been used to fill up the gas tank. All you need is a digital camera or a friend that can take pictures with a digital camera; post the pictures in a website like; give us a link to the pictures so we can look. Close ups of leaf damage (top/bottom) is always appreciated.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 10:47PM
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It was up to 99% leaf hit. Then within *hours*, new buds are forming. Sheez. The impossible happens around me.

Some of the typical leaf damage:

And here's my Gardenia.

Whatever it was stopped munching on the Gardenia, and it too is pushing new leaves on the left, and near the stems.

They love me :o)

Oh. Those two plants ^^ are my beloved Daphnes.

Heh. I wonder why the bugs didn't bite the Daphne...

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 1:38AM
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you can apply a systemic insecticide that is absorbed through the roots. the insects will still do some damage but they will die when they eat the infected plant parts.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:23AM
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