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Timely Tips from Bill

Fellow Gardeners;

I will begin sending out these "Timely Tips" emails periodically. Since gardening is inherently seasonal, these "Timely Tips" emails will apply to the "here and now" of what's going on in your garden. Since bugs are starting to bug me, Pesky Pest Prevention is the first topic. Here goes...

I got this advice about bugs from one of my gardening books. The book is called “Month-By-Month Gardening in Tennessee & Kentucky” by Judy Lowe. I highly recommend it.

June is a bad month for Japanese beetles. Don’t put traps to attract them because the traps will attract more beetles than would have come otherwise. It’s better to hand-pick or spray them.

If the new leaves on your cannas are distorted or won’t unfurl, this is a sign of canna leaf rollers. Cut off the affected foliage and spray with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), an organic control. Come fall, clean away all the old canna foliage so the leaf roller caterpillars won’t overwinter and come back next year.

Aphids like new gladiolus foliage. Try to wash them off with a hose, but if that doesn’t work spray them with insecticidal soap at three day intervals. Don’t spray in the hottest part of the day or when the sun is shining on the plant.

Thrips are hard on gladiolus and other summer flowers. They chew the leaves, causing them to wither and die. Pick off the affected flowers and remove them from the garden and spray with an insecticide.

It’s a good idea to keep flowers as far from the vegetable garden as possible.

Herbs & Vegetables
A word about using insecticides on herbs and vegetables: I have never used insecticides on my herbs or vegetables or fruit trees. I just share with the bugs. So I can’t really tell you from personal experience what insecticide works the best for what plant. If you use insecticides, I would read the label very carefully because there are specific instructions about how much to use and when to spray and how many days before you can harvest anything. Also; many insecticides are toxic to bees so read the label and if it isn’t safe for bees, apply it at dusk when the bees are no longer active in the garden.

It’s the time of the year for aphids and whiteflies. Try hosing tem off with water or, if necessary, spray with insecticidal soap (read directions!!). If whiteflies persist, use yellow sticky traps and put them next to susceptible plants. The insects are attracted by the yellow color and get stuck in the goo.

Mexican beetles can get after your beans and turn the leaves into clear skeletons. My book says to use insecticides or pick them off by hand (again, read directions on the insecticide).

Because they’re indoors, insects on houseplants is not as tied to seasons like outdoor plants and insects. So this is everything I’ve read about bugs on houseplants (so far).

If you’re going to use insecticide on a houseplant, water it deeply the night before. Otherwise, the product may burn the plants leaves.

When you bring a new houseplant into the house, it’s a good idea to isolate it from your other plants for about a month in case it has some hidden disease or insects so it won’t spread to your other houseplants.

If you have mealy bugs, it will look like there’s cotton on your plant. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and lightly rub the cottony stuff. Be sure to check under leaves and where stems and leaves join. The next day, pick off as much “cotton” as you can. Then spray with insecticidal soap twice a week until they’re gone. They tend to come back and have to be treated again.

Whiteflies suck the sap from leaves, causing the foliage to turn yellow. They also make the leave sticky. Treat the plant in the evening when the whiteflies are less likely to fly away. First vacuum as many as possible (hand vac is best), and then empty the vacuum bag outside – away from the plants. Second, spray with insecticidal soap – be sure you spray the undersides of the leaves. Third, get a yellow sticky trap. Remove the sticky trap from the pot whenever you spray and put it back afterwards. Replace the sticky trap when half the trap is covered with whiteflies.

Aphids are tiny insects that get on new growth of your houseplants and the leaves become pale and distorted or stunted. Take the plant outside (if possible) and see how many you can wash off by spraying it with water. After the foliage dries, spray it with insecticidal soap.

Perennials & Ornamental Grasses
As with annuals, Japanese beetles can be a problem with perennials and grasses and the same advice applies: don’t put traps to attract them because the traps will attract more beetles than would have come otherwise. It’s better to hand-pick them and drop them in a can of soapy water or spray them with insecticide.

Keep an eye out for spider mites. They make the foliage look bronzed and look like dust on the undersides of leaves. Try an insecticidal soap. If you prefer a chemical method, get a miticide. They are not usually a problem in rainy weather or when the soil is kept moist.

Spider mites can get your roses, too. They are worse in hot, dry weather. They make the leaves speckled or spotted. Hose them off and when the leaves dry, try spraying with insecticidal soap or light horticultural oil. Ladybugs, lacewings and predatory insects also control mites. If you prefer a chemical method, get a miticide because spider mites are not technically insects.

If you’ve had problems with Japanese beetles or June bugs in the past, you may want to consider spreading milky spore, an organic control that continues to work in the soil for up to fifteen years. It’s best if you can get your neighbors to treat their yards, too. This is a preventative measure because it reduces the number of beetles that will hatch and affect your garden all summer.

Spider mites. See section on “roses” above. In addition to what was in the "roses" section, the section on "shrubs" says you can also treat spider mites by mixing 5 drops of dishwashing liquid with a quart of water and spray on your bushes instead of using insecticidal soap. I am not sure if this alternative applies to roses as well, since it was not mentioned in the “rose” section of the book. Light summer oil (a.k.a. “sun oil”) is another option for infested broadleaf evergreens…but can’t be used when the temperatures start reaching around 90+ degree Fahrenheit.

Japanese beetles. They particularly go after flowering forms of fruit trees. See “Perennials & Ornamental Grasses” above, as the same advice applies here.

Hemlocks should be sprayed for hemlock wooly adelgids twice a year with horticultural oil – regular oil in cool weather and light oil in summer. The first spraying comes this month and second spraying can be anytime between October and March.

Vines and Ground Covers
Spider mites. See “roses” section.

Water Gardens
Test your water and renew your organic mosquito larvae control.

Aphids are tiny sucking insects attracted to new growth. Try hosing them off or dunking the affected leaves in the pond’s water. Dragonflies and ladybugs are good controls for aphids.

Hope everyone has a good day,


Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Gardening with Native Plants July 19, 2015 8:27 AM Bill C.
Herb Fair March 4, 2015 1:23 PM Mark B.
Rose Rosette Disease: Measures You Can Take October 20, 2014 6:18 PM Bill C.
Rose Rosette disease October 20, 2014 6:10 PM Bill C.
Organic Gardening Class Warner Park Nature Center August 30, 2014 1:37 PM June C.
Seed Saving August 10, 2014 3:07 AM Bill C.
Fall Vegetable Gardening August 6, 2014 6:49 AM Bill C.
Info on seed exchange at Nashville Public Library July 24, 2014 8:12 PM Bill C.
Timely Tips from Bill: disenfecting pruning tools July 25, 2014 5:50 PM Bill C.
Timely Tips: Water Gardens in July July 21, 2014 7:12 PM Bill C.
Timely Tips from Bill - The Fungus Among Us - July 21, 2014 7:10 PM Bill C.

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