argh!! aphids on my mint?!?!?

marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))May 10, 2005

I couldn't beleive it, I knew I was having aphid issues on my rose bush, and my strwaberrys, but never in a million years did I think they would like my mint plants! How the heck am I supposed to get rid of them? I don't want to have to spray chemicals on them (I don't know, perhaps I'm strange, I don't mind insecticides on fruits/vegitables, but I do on my herbs!)

Anyone have any suggestions?

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honu(z11 HI)

I never had aphids on my mint, but this kills the aphids on my cilantro: 1 TBS Dr. Bonner's natural soap (or any other NATURAL soap) in 1 quart water. Spray undersides of leaves every few days till the problem goes away. Don't spray when sun is strong, or leaves will burn. You might want to test a small part first to make sure it's not too strong.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 6:46PM
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marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))

See, I don't even want soap on them :( I just want to be able to give them a light rinse before use, not have to wash them throughally. I think I'm screwed in that respect though.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 6:47PM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

The soapy water mix will wash away in no time from either rain or light rinse...check to see whether there are beneficials like ladybugs (or their eggs) that have already moved in to help...also check for any 'mummified' aphids which would indicate parasitic wasps have laid their eggs inside the aphid. If these things are spotted that will ensure you a population of beneficials to combat your aphids. Also you can just give a good strong spray from the water hose which can knock way many of your aphids off tearing their mouth parts away in the process.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 8:41PM
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marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))

Unfortunately, I can't do a spray with a water hose, I'm in an apartment on the 2nd florr - everything is in pots, and I have to water with a watering can.

The aphids are a fairly new occurance, so I haven't seen any dead other than what the spiders have caught. I may have to go buy some ladybugs and see what they can do for me.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 9:51PM
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ABQ_Bob(USDA 5a/SS 2A)

You'll really want the lady bug larva - they eat far more aphids than the adult lady bugs do.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 2:06AM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

Definatley...hungry little teen-agers! LOL!
If you containers are not big/heavy do you have one of those rinse hoses attached at your kitchen sink?


    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 8:21AM
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sparrowhawk(z4 ME)

How about a spray bottle set on stream? Personally, I'd just squish the little buggers with my fingers. It releases a pheromone that helps to keep other aphids away. I also recall reading once that aphid outbreaks often mean the plant is receiving too much nitrogen....something to think about next time you give them a feeding.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 9:08AM
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marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))

I've fed them a grand total of once :/ and the herbs not at all. I do not have a rince hose at my sink. Where would I get ladybug larve? I've only seen the grown ones for sale. Wouldn't they eventually lay eggs?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 11:34AM
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nancyathome(z5 IA)

I agree with sparrowhawk, squishing the little buggers seems to be the best way to get rid of them in container plants. I've also had some in my pepper and eggplant seedlings and they get into places I can't reach. I mix 1/2 part water to 1/2 part rubbing alcohol with a drop or two of liquid dishwashing soap and touch the aphid with a Q-tip that has been dipped in the mixture. I seem to be keeping them under control although I have to watch them every day or I think they would take over.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 3:27PM
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Brassia(z5 MO)

Ultra Fine or Bonide horticultural oil sprays are far more effective in conquering than soap sprays. They cover much more consistently, and are safe compared to chemicals. You typically want to treat said plants once a week for 3 consecutive weeks (to kill all eggs and hatchlings). Soaking the soil with the product will also help, rather than just spraying the leaves. They are much easier to destroy on mint than whit flies.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 3:35PM
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Hwy66Jan(z5 CO)

Here's an old herbal remedy: steep catnip (Nepeta) leaves in your watering can to deter lots of insects, including ants. If you don't have any catnip handy, then by all means grow some along with your mint! If you have a kitty, he or she will love you for it. But I agree with the others that the natural soap solution is a great way to go - you'll be cleaning any pollution off the leaves at the same time! Best of luck!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 4:53PM
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marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))

LOL I had a catnip lant - till my cat desided to eat it. After she ate it, she dug the root ball out of the ground and used it as a cat toy!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 5:09PM
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Hwy66Jan(z5 CO)

Oh too funny. Try a catnip hanging basket. Another old herbal wisdom: cats won't mess with catnip planted from seed: "If you sow it the cats don't know it, but if you set it the cats will get it." (Foster, 1966) I think I'd go with the hanging basket. A cat frolicking with a dirty root ball CANNOT be good. Teehee.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 8:43PM
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GrowHappy(z7 MD)

Hi Marie,

Did you check I think they may have the LB larvae. Also, Neem oil may work in your fight against aphids. Neem also takes care of a lot of other critters too! Good Luck,


    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 9:22PM
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Mentha(9 CA)

Try planting some garlic in the pots, or in a neighboring pot. Aphids don't like garlic.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 11:48PM
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marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))

Well, I bought some incecticdal soap, and sprayed my tomatos, peppers and roses, and I also bought a mesh bag full of ladybugs (said it held 1500 - quite a lot on my balcony!) a lot of them flew away after a day or 2, but I do staill have a lot left, and they have taken care of almost all of my aphids. I see one or two, but that's it :)They seem to be doing everything you would expect and I think I will probably start seing eggs soon :)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 2:16PM
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I may have a similar problem, but really I'm not sure. I googled "mint aphid" to find pictures to see if my problem is the same, and I found pictures of green bugs that look larger than the tiny tiny little white things that are all over my mint. I've been meaning to take pictures of the little buggers on my mint, but keep forgetting so now I figured I'd just send the message and hope someone knows what I'm talking about :) My mint is container bound on the inside of my south-facing window.

So the question is, are tiny little white specs with many barely visible legs also aphids? If not, what should I do to get rid of them?

Thank you!!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 10:32AM
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new_grdnr(z9 CA)


I am new to gardening and experimenting with herbs. Got some curly mint from OSH along with rosemary and thai basil. all in 2.8 x 2.8" square plastic pots. I left all of them on my kitchen window sill, facing North. I have been watering them once daily. After about 12 days, all of a sudden, my mint died!!? all the leaves got dried up and the stem was also very dried up. so i watered them long and twice daily for 2 days, but it doesn't seem to help.

today i checked them closely and i see very tiny bugs or buglike things (light green)on them.

PS: the roots had come slightly out of the pot.

I live in the bay area in California, zone 9.
please help. any advice is good. is it too much water or too much heat? all my other herbs are doing good.

thanks in advance,

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 4:10AM
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cherishedarts(z5 sw michigan)

I think that 2.8 pots are WAY too small. The good news is that it is almost impossible to kill mint! Cut it back (almost to the soil level) and it may grow again.

In the meantime . . . pull the plant completely out of the container. Are the roots winding around in circles? Or, worse yet, do they smell somewhat sweet? If so, you have some parts of the roots that are rotting. You will need to trim them off with a pair of sharp, clean shears or scissors. You can trim about 2/3rds of the rootball without killing the plant if necessary. It is always MUCH more important to take care of the roots than the plant! If your plant is root bound simply wrap your four fingers from each hand around the bottom of opposing sides of the rootball with your thumbs above on the top. Pull the roots apart to about 2/3rds of the way to the top of the plant, leaving 1/3 of the distance from the top of the soil undisturbed. Turn the plant one-quarter and repeat. (An alternative is to take a sharp knive and cut straight slits almost the top of the rootball to almost the bottom of the rootball. For a rootball that small I would think 2-3 slits would be enough. Now . . . replant in a much larger pot! I would suggest about 8" . . . with most plants I would be afraid that the dramatic change in sizes might shock them, but mint is way hardy and really needs some room to spread out. If your space does not permit that large of a pot, trim those roots way back and put in a pot that is as large as you can! You will need to do this every so often in order to keep this plant in a smaller pot. Another choice is the take the plant out of the pot and, using a sharp knife or shears, divide the plant into multiple plants. Give the new plants out as gifts to friends or simply keep for yourself in separate pots. Or, at worst case, throw them in the trash (do not throw outside! They will root and take over whatever area you throw them into! When re-potting, make sure you water the potting mix well before you set the plant into the new pot. Make a nice mushy mess of it . . . treat it like dough and squish and stir it with your hands to make sure it is moist! Then add the plant and the rest of the potting mix and water very, very well again. Water until some water and soil comes out of the bottom of the pot and starts to fill the saucer. Make sure to dump the water from the saucer afterwards.

A few more tips . . . anytime the roots are coming out of the pot, either from the top or the bottom, you are probably looking at a plant that is rootbound. Rootbound plants are taking up so much room that there is no room for the water, etc., that the plant needs to survive, no matter how much you attempt to water it.

After you water a plant, you should be able to come back in a few minutes and stick you fingers into about the knuckle (less in a 2.8" pot of course--I would just pull the whole plant out to check it unless you have a plant that is sentive to being disturbed . . . and mint is not sensitive!) and still feel some moisture in the soil. If not, your soil is not absorbing the moisture. This can happen if a plant goes too long without water (may have occurred before you got the plant) and then the potting mixture actually repells the water. The water at this point just runs down the side of the pot and into the saucer, not allowing any water near the rootball. Take the plant out of the pot and submerge it in water, gently massaging the rootball and soil until the soil becomes evenly moist. If this does not help, repeat the process with clean water that you have added a drop of dishwashing detergent to.

Now . . . I have a question: what is OSH? I have seen that is several postings and haven't a clue as to what it is.

Best of luck! By the way . . . everything above is true for most plants. Some like less water in general . . . give them a good watering but them allow the soil to get slightly dry (test by sinking you finger into the soil up to the first knuckle) before watering again. And be careful to make sure a plant is not sensitive to being handled or having its roots disturbed before attempting any of the rootbound procedures . . . in this case simply plant in larger pot, water well, and pray). NEVER ALLOW ANY HERB TO TOTALLY DRY OUT! Also, remember that it is best to water well fewer times than to water a little each time but more often.

If you are using clay pots . . . soak the pots completely in water for a few minutes before potting . . . the clay will actually pull the water away from the plant at a time the plant really needs the water! Also, remember that clay pots will dry out more quickly and will therefore need to be watered more often. The good news is that they allow much more air circulation . . . something more herbs appreciate . . . than plastic or some other containers.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 10:48PM
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cherishedarts(z5 sw michigan)

One more thing . . . keep in mind that Rosemary, thyme and sage (among others) do not do well with contantly wet or even moist roots. I would be sure to put the rosemary in a terra cotta (clay) pot. Make sure that you let the soil dry out somewhat (never completely) before watering again.
Your basil will be more like your mint . . . it will like to stay somewhat moist.

My research says that basil should be in a pot that is at least 3" high and I would put it in at least a 6-8" pot. I would put the rosemary in at least a 4" pot . . . however it will eventually need a MUCH larger pot unless you keep it trimmed way down.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 10:54PM
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new_grdnr(z9 CA)

hi cherishedarts,

thanks for the big reply. i did not mean to follow up in this thread. so i posted it again as a new Question and got a few replies.
by the way, OSH is "Orchard Supply Hardware", a store known for selling plants and gardening stuff here in CA- similar to wal-mart garden centre :)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 12:43AM
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Shule(about 4a)

I have aphids on mint cuttings I took this fall. They keep hatching or something, although it's happening less often as I pick them off.

Here's my suggestion for controlling aphids on mint:

Mow your mint over every month for at least a few months. Mint will grow back, and probably be healthier than before. You'll probably get a few aphids after you mow it (hence mowing it multiple times), although I don't know where they come from. It's like they grow with the leaves or something (even in cuttings from growth that was never outside). Nevertheless, mowing should help to control them and prevent them from maturing and laying more eggs.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2014 at 5:46PM
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