Pests and diseases have the potential to really spoil your beautiful garden plants, but as long as you are vigilant, practice prevention rather than cure and always act at the first sign of trouble, you should be able to reduce the impact of any problems.
The first step to keeping your plants healthy is to make sure you look over them regularly. You can often nip a potential problem in the bud just by spotting it in time and doing something as simple as picking off a mildewed leaf or wiping off an insect – and remember to deadhead and remove dead leaves regularly.
And it always helps to be aware of potential problems which may occur – for example roses are particularly vulnerable to black spot, mildew and rust, the cabbage family are affected by clubroot, and vine weevil larvae are fond of cyclamen, tuberous begonias and primula roots.
If you do find your plants under attack, there are a number of ways you can deal with the problem – we’ve highlighted spraying, soil drenching, and companion planting and natural friends.
Spraying is particularly effective at targeting specific issues and ensures that you only treat the affected area. There are three main types of sprays which can be used in the garden:
Systemic Fungicides – such as Fungus Fighter and Rose Clear Ultra
These products are taken into the sap of the plant and move around inside it to deal with fungal problems and are available for ornamental plants. Always be sure to follow the instructions to make sure that you don’t over-treat.
Systemic Insecticides – such as Provado Ultimate Bug Killer
These products are absorbed by the plant and then eaten by the pests and are also available for both ornamental and edible plants. Always be sure to follow the instructions to make sure that you don’t over-treat., and for edible plants make sure you check the harvest interval – the number of days that have to pass between spraying and eating.
Contact Insecticides – such as Bug Clear for Fruit and Veg and Insecticidal Soap
These products work only on what they touch, so if you’re using these it’s vital to cover the whole plant thoroughly. As an organic alternative insecticidal soap – a liquid soap based on fatty acids – is effective against aphids, red spider mites, and whitefly.
If you use any chemical sprays in the garden, always read the instructions carefully before application, don’t spray in windy conditions so that you don’t affect other plants, and remember to consider the wildlife by not spraying into open flowers which has the potential to affect pollinating insects.
Soil drenching is the practice of applying diluted chemical in liquid form by wetting the soil under a sick plant or tree.
The chemical is absorbed by the roots of the affected plant without transferring to other plants in your garden and is a particularly effective treatment for vine weevil grubs.
Companion Planting & Natural Friends
Companion planting and encouraging natural friends are completely organic ways of reducing the effects of pests in your garden. You’re probably familiar with the concept of companion planting – where beneficial plant communities are created so that one type of plant attracts the pest away from the plant you wish to protect – and it’s also easy to attract birds and mammals who love to feast on pests!
Here are some things you could consider for your own garden.
- Put in a pond – even if it’s a small one, birds and wildlife will visit for a drink, and you’ll also attract frogs and toads – the best natural controls for slugs.
- Plant a hedge – which encourages insects and birds to your garden – and the robins, blackbirds, thrushes and blue tits will soon deal with soil grubs, caterpillars, snails and greenfly.
- Put up nest boxes – providing a safe place to rear their young will be fully repaid by the feeding the chicks with pests from your garden – and you get to watch the brood too!
- Put up bug boxes to encourage beneficial insects to over-winter in your garden – the adults will reproduce in your garden each year to ensure a continual queue of pest munchers.
- And if you’re companion planting, mix marigolds with tomatoes to deter aphids and plant lettuce or radish crops close to carrots, making it difficult for the carrot fly to lay its eggs in bare soil.
Whether you choose to spray, drench, companion plant or create a beneficial wildlife haven, visit us today to check out our great ranges of all the supplies you’ll need to make your garden a pest and disease-free zone!