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What's Bloomin'


Are Aphids Our Enemies?

Did you know, there are two sides to every story - even in the garden? For instance, the lowly aphid that most of us think of as evil. Well, here's another side to look at. 

Aphids are sometimes our friends because their very presence tells us that our plant is in need of some attention if it is to survive. 

When we see them sucking away on a plant, get out the  hose and knock them off. Or if they are small young plants that are under attack, wash them off with water and your fingers. This can break apart an aphids mouth parts and knock them to the soil so predators such as spiders can have them for lunch.

Aphids love nitrogen and are looking for plants that have a lot of it inside those stems. So instead of using high nitrogen granular fertilizer, use a slow release type such as adding compost to the soil to  nourish the plant. 

Seedlings take a lot of nitrogen to germinate and grow, so protect them by starting seed indoors and covering transplants in the garden with row covers.

Severe spring or early summer pruning of shrubs and broadleaf trees causes a lot of new growth that is high in nitrogen and this will prompt aphid colonies to grow. Wait until fall or when the plants are dormant in winter to do that heavy pruning.

Now, keep an eye out for beneficials such as ladybugs and encourage them. If you don't see many, you can purchase them and set them loose in the garden near the plant. You can order them online at: http://www.amazon.com/Orcon-LB-C1500-Ladybugs-Approximately-Count/dp/B000MR6WRG