Nobody likes to discover that their plants are infested with aphids, or that fungi has bloomed. That’s why here at The Handy Mano, we’ve put together some tips to help you prevent plant pests and keep your plants strong, beautiful and healthy.
How to Prevent Plant Pests
1. Fertilise your plants!
Did you know that insects have a preference for weaker plants? That’s why our first piece of advice is to fertilise them regularly. A healthy plant is less attractive to plant pests which means that it’ll bloom better for us! You can use a generic fertiliser for flowering or leafy plants. There are specific fertilisers for veggie patches, orchids, cacti and even a specific one for bonsais. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, because excessive fertiliser can also do more harm than good!
Aphids and red spiders (pictured) prefer plants that are rich in nitrogen, meaning that any excess of this nutrient can turn your plants into something extra delicious for them, so make sure to always read the label and follow the instructions!
2. Check your plants regularly
Check both sides of the leaves, and keep an eye out for discolouration, small holes or webs. It’s easy to realise that you have a whitefly infestation even if you just brush past your plant, so make sure you keep checking up on them!
In doing this, over time you will be able to identify potential problems quicker and therefore be able to give your plant the correct treatment sooner. Many plant pests are cyclical, and repeat year after year, so don’t let them stress you out too much. Try to stay positive, because experience counts and if the pests come back next year, you’ll know exactly what to do.
3. Not all bugs are bad!
It can be an interesting exercise to identify the different insects swarming around our gardens, because they don’t all munch through our plants. Some prey on the plant pests that do eat them, and in such cases, these bugs are the ones we should be concerned about inviting to visit our gardens or plant beds.
That’s what plant biodiversity is all about. For example, a balcony which has only one type of plant growing there may awsell have a neon light to attract its preferred plant pests! Those of us with urban gardens know this all too well, hence we never forget to pair up certain plants with our food crops.
For example, Basil repels mosquitoes and white flies, and Nasturtium repels snails and ants (and it looks great, too!)
4. Apply preventative treatments
You can choose to treat your plants when they already have a problem, or you can apply specific products to prevent the problems from occurring in the first place. If you have geraniums and know that they struggle every year because of the butterflies that lay their eggs on them… why not try to prevent it from happening by using an insecticide?
5. Strictly follow application guidelines
When the doctor prescribes us antibiotics, he always recommends finishing the course of medication even if we feel better, right? Well, it’s the same with plants. Many insecticides work on the adult insects that swarm around the plants but they don’t kill the eggs which can hatch within 15 days.
Repeat the treatment if the instructions recommend you to do so.
6. Beware of over-watering
Most fungi appear because of excess water. This can be caused by either watering too much, or, because of the British weather!
Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to try to prevent fungi growth by using a preventative fungicide. Although we can’t stop the rain, we can at least help our plants a little and get rid of the excess fungi.
7. Dry leaves don’t always mean disease!
If you’re a newbie to gardening, don’t get too worried if you discover some yellow leaves. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your plant isn’t receiving enough nutrients.
During any plant’s growth period, it’s perfectly normal for it to shed some leaves.
In such cases, look at the leaf’s position on the plant. Is it one of the biggest and oldest? If yes, relax: it has simply come to the end of its life cycle.
However, it’s okay to worry when the leaf in question is a new leaf or one of the smaller ones, as that means that it was likely to have been born with a deformity or a strange colour. You can find out the likely root of the problem by searching for the plant online and trying to identify the specific symptoms to figure out the next steps to take.
In potted plants, you might notice the leaves lack that ‘luscious green’ look. This is a common issue, and as the leaves are telling us they lack certain nutrients, it’s just up to us to invest in more nutrients and feed them!
Which plant pests worry you the most and how do you keep them at bay? Let us know!