It wasn’t long ago that I was happily declaring that the fight to defend my roses against aphids was being won by parasitic wasps. Well, the wasps have clearly bitten off more than they can chew (as have I) and the aphids are overwhelming me with sheer numbers.
I’ve squished, squirted and flicked them, but still they keep coming.
I’ve actually lost blooms, mainly due to stem damage. The aphids have feasted on the new growth resulting in weak stems that can’t support the bloom – which may also have been damaged. It has been a dissapointing Autumn flush.
Anway putting aphids aside for a moment, I am going to intersperse this post with photos of my April ‘bloom survey’ of those roses that were in bloom on the 26th. I’m having to cheat a little with some photos from the last few days, as I got a bit carried away cutting roses to bring indoors before I took my photos!
From now on the 26th will be my ‘rose survey’ day when I take stock of what’s in flower to help get a better picture of my year of roses. If anyone is interested in joining me for a monthly rose bloom survey, you are more than welcome. If I get any takers I’ll work out how to link the posts!
Back to the little green beasties. Aphids aren’t uncommon in my garden, but they are usually kept in balance by predators and a little bit of squishing here and there. No need for drastic methods such as spraying with insecticides.
I don’t have a lot by way of theories as to why the aphids are so bad just now, but here is what I have come up with:
- It has actually been quite wet over the last few weeks – good drought breaking rain that is seeming to indicate that our temperate conditions may be returning to a more normal pattern – good for the garden, but good for providing food for an abundance of pests too.
- Neglect last Spring and early summer had meant that I have paid even less attention to fertilising and caring for my roses than usual. Some of the plants are not as healthy as they should be.
- Many of the roses are in shaded positions, making them weak and more prone to attack. The roses tend to get tired toward the end of the autumn flush anyway, so it is a hard time of year for them.
So what is the solution? Give in and get out the spray? A little pyrethrum at least? No, at this point in time I’m just going to force myself to be patient and wait. It’s only about six weeks until it’s time to prune the roses anyway, so I’m cooling my heels and drawing up battle plans. I’ve come over all ‘Art of War’.
So far the plan of attack is as follows:
- Learn how to attract more beneficial insects to the garden, including re-establishing a ladybug colony in spring. I’ve found some interesting info on attracting ladybugs and will share what I’ve learnt soon.
- As I’ve mentioned before many of the roses are going to be moved to a sunnier position over winter, so this should help them develop much stronger growth and make them less prone to attack.
- Moving the roses will be a great time to give them a good tidy up and start them off again with a really good feed, again this should boost their health.
- I’m also going to look into the viability of purchasing some beneficial insects if I can’t attract them on my own.
It won’t be until next year that I know if these strategies have been succesful or not…but I’ll at least have some idea as to how healthy they are all looking in spring!