The mere sight of these small pests can fill a gardener’s heart with dread. We’ll show you how to get rid of aphids naturally – all you need for effective aphid control are some tried and tested home remedies.
As soon as the first green shoots appear in the garden and or the balcony, aphids are usually lurking nearby. Whether it’s roses, raspberries, mint, rocket or nasturtium – there is hardly a plant which doesn’t attract their sap-sucking colonies. Find out why these pests are a problem and how to get rid of aphids easily and naturally.
Aphid Control: Early Detection Is Key
An aphid infestation not only looks unsightly and unappetizing, but it can also be dangerous for the plant – which is why every hobby gardener should know how to get rid of aphids.
These tiny creatures, only 1/8 of an inch in size, like to congregate on delicate shoot tips, in young flower buds and on the underside of leaves. There they feed on sap, a plant’s lifeblood, producing a sweet, sticky waste called “honeydew” in the process.
Don’t let the sweet name fool you: honeydew provides the perfect breeding ground for a fungus called sooty mold. This fungus hinders photosynthesis causing plants to “starve”. Ants feed on honeydew and – in return – protect the aphids from predators.
Besides stripping plants of their precious sap and photosynthesis abilities, aphids are among the few animals that can transmit plant viruses. To make matters worse, they multiply like crazy – so early detection is the key to aphid control!
How to Get Rid of Aphids Using Natural Remedies
Now that you know what they are capable of, you are probably dying to know how to get rid of aphids. If the infestation is severe, you can resort to sprays: There are both natural and synthetic insecticides on the market. However, it is advisable to take a look at the ingredients – and not only because they can be harmful to humans. Some sprays negatively affect the ecosystem and kill not only aphids but other beneficial insects and their larvae as well.
Incidentally, this also applies to a classic homemade remedy: Brews containing soft or curd soap are not poisonous, but they can kill soft-bodied insects other than aphids. Products or recipes containing neem seed extracts, on the other hand, are considered harmless. We have compiled a few more natural remedies to keep your plants safe from aphids.
Stinging Nettle Brew
A safe, easy way to keep aphids at bay is to make your own plant brews, out of stinging nettle for instance. Stinging nettle is said to help with aphid control in two ways: to repel them and as a fertilizer to strengthen the plant’s defense system.
To make the brew:
- Fill a bucket with nettles and pour water over it.
- Leave it to infuse for a day.
- Then drain it and pour the brew into an empty spray bottle.
Now it’s time to enforce aphid control: spray the undiluted liquid onto the affected parts of the plant.
If you want to get rid of aphids quickly, try wormwood: Simply pour five cups of boiling water over one heaping teaspoon of dried wormwood tea and let it steep for about 15 minutes. Once the tea has cooled down, use the undiluted brew to spray the infected plants. It is that easy to fight aphids with household remedies!
Aphid Control Using Plants
There are certain plants which supposedly not only repel aphids but which also protect neighboring plants from infestation. These include savory, potatoes, garlic, lavender, sage, marigold and thyme.
Although they cannot do much in the case of a severe infestation, use them to prevent aphids from approaching your plants in the first place.
How to Get Rid of Aphids Using Predators
Mixed crops in raised beds and balcony planters are generally better than monocultures – and also attract beneficial organisms to your garden. Some of these include natural enemies of aphids, such as ladybugs, green lacewings, ichneumon wasps and hover flies. And it’s not just the mature insects: The larvae of these natural enemies also feed on aphids. If you haven’t discovered any in your garden, you can order them online.
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A side note: Ants do not eat aphids but benefit from them instead. They do whatever they can to protect their precious honeydew from their enemies.
Aphid Control at All Cost…
As Benjamin Franklin rightly said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This holds true in the case of an aphid infestation, too. The presence of aphids on your plants might be an indication that they aren’t getting enough water or nutrients – or that the opposite might be true. Take care of your plants, but be careful: Too much nitrogen fertilizer is said to attract aphids rather then repel them!
Regularly check your plants for the following signs of an aphid infestation:
- Misshapen, curled leaves
- Dead shoots and buds
If the number of aphids has not yet gotten out of hand, the National Gardening Association (NGA) recommends removing them with a stream of water from a hose. If this is not possible, it is better to cut off and dispose of the infested shoot or flower.
… But Some Aphids on Plants Are Fine
Introducing aphids to a weak plant is a surefire way to ensure its death since these soft-bodied pests multiply almost explosively. Once they show up, they are very difficult to get rid of.
That being said, having an aphid-free garden or balcony is not entirely desirable: As a source of food for beneficial insects, aphids play an important role in the ecosystem. Experience shows that aphid infestation is most severe in spring and early summer. However, the more active the predators become, the fewer of these pests you’ll naturally find.underlined orange are partially partner links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org, because we will receive a small part of the sales proceeds. More info.
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