Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tell the Truth Tuesday (Late Edition): Ladybugs needed

I was pleased when two of my Hesperaloe parviflora produced bloom spikes this year.  They weren't nearly as floriferous as those I saw in Austin, Texas last year but I felt my small collection of plants was headed in the right direction.

I took this photo of the Hesperaloe blooms in late June

The flowers still looked fine when I took photos for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in mid-July


Then this week I noticed that the smaller bloom spike didn't look right.

I took this photo yesterday.  Notice the bloom spike on the left.


From a distance, the flower spike on this plant seemed to have turned gray

But it was actually covered in tiny green sap-sucking beasties


Within little more than a week, when I wasn't looking, the aphids covered the entire flower spike.  It seems that the warmer weather brought them out.  I dealt with smaller infestations on the Gaura in my front garden in early spring but it was nothing like this.  I cut the entire spike and deposited it in the trash, then doused the Hesperaloes with insecticidal soap.  At present, the flower spikes on the adjacent plant don't appear to have any bugs at all.

After I'd cleaned up the aphid problem (at least for the moment), I noticed a nearby bed was in need of grooming.  It too had looked great in June.

Succulents comfortably mingled with purple-flowered Limonium perezii (aka sea lavender) here


As the Limonium started to fade I cut out the flower stems that no longer looked good.  One thing led to another and, after pulling some of rattier Limoniums, I cut back an overly exuberant trailing Osteospermum, rampant stems of asparagus fern (an inherited weed here), and some sickly pale stems of Senecio vitalis, revealing other plants I'd entirely forgotten about.

My clean-up is by no means complete but my knee can only handle so much time working on even a moderate slope like this one

I planted this Aloe striata x maculata early last year, along with Aeonium cuttings, then lost track of it entirely when it was engulfed by the Limonium.  There's another variegated succulent  just beyond it I haven't even identified yet. 


More clean-up - and perhaps a new planting vision - is needed to whip this area into shape, but that's a project for a cooler day.  The heat seems to have caught up with us at last.

Tell the Truth Tuesday is hosted on a periodic basis by Alison at Bonnie Lassie to keep things real by showing the less-than-Instagram-perfect features of our gardens.   Is your garden harboring any nasty bugs or hiding any lost treasures?  Do tell.


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


20 comments:

  1. I couldn't help but smile when I read your post - I have many "one thing led to another" moments in the garden when I'm cleaning up :)

    Ugh! We are having an epic aphid season here as well - the underside of all the cup plants (Silphium perfoliatum) have been literally covered with red aphids for about a month now. It's a large area & there are simply too many to do much about so I haven't done anything. I figure, if they are on the cup plants, they are NOT on something else. The cup plants are so vigourous that they don't really seem to be phased by it all that much. I've noted a marked reduction in their numbers in the past week or so, which is good timing as the plants are probably going to bloom soon.

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    1. I DO have a definite tendency to get carried away when "tidying up" in the garden, Margaret. As to the aphids, I patted myself on the back for catching their emergence and dealing with them early when I treated my Gaura in early spring. The joke's on me!

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  2. Oh my! The close up of that Hesperaloe flower was rather gag-inducing.

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    1. They were disgusting! I don't think I've ever seen them cover a plant like that. And I'd never have thought of Hesperaloe as an aphid target.

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  3. I'm having a problem with aphids (at least I think it's aphids) on my Echinops this year, all over the garden wherever they're planted. Every one has distorted tips. They're still flowering, they just look misshapen. I haven't done anything about it, I've been hoping ladybugs would find them. And if not, all the plants are big and vigorous and will probably come back fine next year. Your hesperaloe bloom was pretty inundated and ugly, good move cutting it off and disposing of it.

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    1. I read something somewhere recently about leaving aphids alone to provide food for ladybugs and birds but this was too gross to ignore. The weather this year must be a factor in the mix. I can't remember aphids being a huge issue in midsummer before.

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  4. Oh, those darned aphids! This year has seen an abundance of those creatures all over this area & gardeners are not happy.

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    1. I tried to find a source to tell me what kind of factors contribute to aphid invasions but I came up empty on a rudimentary on-line search. I'll have to dig deeper.

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  5. That was a frightening sight. When I work in the garden I have to keep telling myself "Stay focused!" It's so easy to get thrown off track and let the original chore for the day fall by the wayside.

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    1. I think I'm virtually incapable of remaining focused in the garden, Barbara. Even when I have a list of chores, I stray...

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  6. Eeewwww. I can't stand those critters. They make my skin crawl. I hope the soap takes care of them. I have been ripping out Tawny Daylilies, those orange daylilies that most people call ditch lilies because that is where they are normally seen. They are invasive around here. One thing always leads to another in the garden.

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    1. Sometimes you just don't know how extensive a problem is until you start tackling it. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

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  7. You know, a few years ago, a little by accident, I discovered that those ditch-dwelling Teasels are amazing aphid magnets. More here - there is a great BBC video at the end, worth watching. https://flutterandhum.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/my-big-weed/

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    1. Believe it or not, Anna, I've heard - and seen - ants "herding" aphids. I hose down the base of my agaves on a periodic basis to blast both the ants and any aphids they're tending. If done regularly it seems to at least control them.

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  8. I usually don't see aphids in July--bud worms and spider mites are the bug of choice right now. Thank goodness for the Zinnias-they just don't care !

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    1. That was part of what was weird here, Kathy. I'm used to aphids in the spring but not this late in the year when the temperatures soar.

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  9. Hello Kris, I loved to know the flowers and plants of this garden.
    Good continuation of the week.
    janicce.

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  10. My sweet peas have been under siege by aphids, as well. I gotta get out there with some soap!

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    1. Ugh! I guess it's a good thing that our sweet peas bloom in late winter.

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