HOW TO GET RID OF APHIDS ON ROSES



Is there anything more perfectly English than the unblemished blooms of a traditional Tea rose? The fact that their roots (historical that is) originate far on the other side of the world is neither here nor there as without their quintessential show and fragrance how you can possibly make an Englishman’s home his garden?

Beneath the surface of its skin deep beauty, a secret struggle of chemical and biological warfare rages, and much like any other arms race the stakes just keep getting higher.

As more of our garden pests become resistance to insecticidal chemicals we are force to develop newer and more effective replacements, but at what cost? If this cycle of resistance and development isn't broken then it’s the environment that pays while big chemical manufacturers line their pockets by feeding off our weakness for perfection.

There are numerous enemies that we must defend our beloved blooms from, but one rises above all the others to give us our greatest threat. Stealthily they attack, confusing us with their many faces, but we will name them one by one, Blackfly, greenfly, and whitefly.

Camouflaged by colour, they cannot hide the truth that they are all related to that same heinous family - the aphids! Their destructive hypodermic mouthparts drain the plants of their strength as well as disfiguring soft new shoots. Even more sinister is that they too trade in biological warfare by transferring viruses from plant to plant in their saliva. This is the plant world’s despicable equivalent to sharing dirty needles.

Perhaps we should look to Gandhi for inspiration and try to find a more a peaceful solution that doesn't involve the wholesale and indiscriminate destruction of other beneficial insects. We could use ‘organic’ insecticides such as pyrethrum derivatives or fatty acid sprays (but please avoid the flowers), but that’s just what they would expect us to do. There is another way, a two pronged attack using companion planting and natural predators.

COMPANION PLANTING

This can work in two ways.

The companion plant itself can discourage your rose pests. Planting garlic - or catmint in among your rose displays is a tried and tested method of deterring aphids.

It’s believed that essentials oils released from the companion plants help to mask the Roses own fragrance making it difficult for aphids to identify their host plants, but don't worry as your nose won’t be sensitive enough to tell the difference, unless you crush the leaves first!

Using the right companion plants can positively encourage aphid predators. These include marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers, fennel, dill, and yarrow. These will attract deadly battle groups of damselfly, hoverflies, lacewings, ladybirds, whitefly and parasitic wasps to your defence. With the exception of cosmos it will also provide you with a nice selection of home grown, dig for victory, herbs.

NATURAL PREDATORS

Without understanding the life cycles of these natural predators you can never expect to get the best out of them.

By creating the right habitats in our garden, we can help to promote and encourage each of their life cycles.

This can be achieved by providing log piles that, when allowed to rot naturally, will create a fantastic haven for them in the garden.

Although not normally regarded as an aspirational want, the common nettle is also a fantastic plant for encouraging insects into the garden, supporting over 40 species of insect including some of our most beautiful butterflies.

The most common aphid predators are ladybird adult and larvae, lacewing adult and larvae, hoverfly larvae. In fact just one lady bird can consume over 5000 aphids during their lifetime.
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