Ants in your plants?
As everything is starting to grow, it’s advisable to check all your pots and containers for bugs that have been over-wintering and likely to cause damage to your plants during the coming months.
Take your plants out of their pots and check the roots for activity.
Although these are harmless to the plants, its advisable to remove them and their eggs. Either put them in the hedgerow or a spot in the garden where they can reside happily. Wash the pot and then add fresh compost when repotting.
As a side note, ants feed off the honeydew created by aphids, so they love aphids and obviously don’t like ladybirds as they eat the aphids, so you may experience a bit of warfare in the garden!
These are commonly known as greenfly and blackfly. There are 500 aphid species in the UK and you can usually see them easily on plant tips (new growth) flower buds and the underside of leaves. I usually find aphids on lupins just before they come into flower, rose leaves (new growth) and nasturtiums.
It’s best to remove them as they will suck the life out of your plants and ultimately kill it. I remove mine by hand and then use a solution of washing up liquid and water in a squirty bottle and give the plant a good spray and repeat it for a few days to ensure the aphids have gone.
These insects can feed on a wide range of plants, both indoors and outdoors, but can be especially damaging to plants grown in containers. It is a very widespread and common insect. The adult weevils eat leaves during spring and summer, but it is the grubs that can cause the most damage over autumn and winter when they feed on plant roots. This damage can result in wilting and plant death.
It’s best to inspect the whole plant and tip out the pots onto a newspaper. The grubs are C shaped and white in colour so are easy to spot amongst the rootball. They are loved by birds, so you can pop them on the bird table.
The adults will eat chunks out of the leaves which is a good sign they are prevalent in your garden. The best way to remove them is to check the plants at dusk and pick them off by hand.
Slugs & snails
Check for signs of slugs and snails all year round. I will pick them out of the pots and rootballs and put them in the hedgerow as they are beneficial to the garden as they eat all the plant detritus. However, they will also eat your prized plants too, so it’s best to keep them under control. Here is a photo of the snail eggs, so simply remove all the loose compost from the plant roots, wash the pot out and use fresh compost to repot.
This is the best way to control the insects eating your plants without using any chemicals which can be harmful to other beneficial insects, birds and mammals living in your garden.