By Brian Wagner
WITH warmer temperatures our roses will start growing and blooming, but they will also become easy prey to pests and diseases.
It’s time to enjoy them, but also to look after their health and help them with regular feeding and watering.
Aphids represent one of the most common and frustrating pests for roses and any ornamental and productive plants.
They are are 2mm long sap-sucking insects related to psyllids (also known as plant lice), and they quickly build up large colonies on new buds, stems and leaves, by piercing the surface and sucking out the plant’s juices.
Their presence can quickly result in lack of plant vigour, deformed buds, flower loss, yellow leaves or even defoliation of the plant.
I suggest to remove these nasty buds from your plants as soon as you spot them, but in a natural way, avoiding chemical remedies that could affect the plant and the soil, and could also kill other insects that are actually good for your garden.
The best plan of attack with aphids is to encourage their natural predators – lacewings, hoverflies and ladybirds – to thrive and to let them keep the aphids under control.
By having a healthy garden and not using chemical sprays, these predators will be present and will help your roses.
When aphids are already attacking your plants, try picking off or squashing their clusters around the flower buds and the new growth using your fingers; squirt them away with a jet from a garden hose or brush them off with a small paint brush.
If their population swells beyond a manageable number, the basic nature of a mild household organic detergent makes it perfect for getting rid of them. Every two days and for two weeks, dilute a few tablespoons of organic dish soap in a small bucket of lukewarm water and use a sponge or spray bottle to apply the mixture to the plants where aphids have taken hold.
Ultimately, the best way to control aphids or any other disease in your garden is to build up the health of your plants by feeding and watering appropriately and regularly, because happy and healthy plants are always more resistant to stress and diseases.
You’ll find more information on how to grow healthy and strong rose plants on www.wagnersrosenursery.com.au.