How to

Tackle garden problems in late winter

Aug Wk3

There’s always something trying to spoil your plants. If it isn’t insect pests, it’s diseases like black spot. But late winter is a good time to get rid of plant problems and set up the garden with the best possible start for spring.

Roses, for example, can be given a clean-up Lime Sulphur spray immediately after pruning. But if your rose has already started to shoot, it’s probably too late to use Lime Sulphur (which could burn the young leaves). Instead you should begin applying a good fungicide/insecticide/miticide such as Yates Rose Gun or Rose Shield.

Regular monitoring is the best way to prevent pests from spoiling your plants. Walk through the garden as often as you can and try to remove problems in their early stages. Insect pests can be easily picked off or squashed by hand while their numbers are still controllable.

Most pest insects fall into two groups – either sap suckers or leaf eaters.

Sap suckers are usually small – often minute – but they can be present in huge numbers. Aphids are good examples. Aphids (pictured) suck sugary sap directly out of the youngest leaves. This weakens the plant and also causes twisting and curling of the new growth. In their early stages it’s easy to remove sap suckers like aphids but, once numbers build up, you’ll probably need to spray with an insecticide.

Yates has a wide selection of controls to choose from. They include soap-based Natrasoap, plant-extract pyrethrum or systemic Confidor. Confidor is most effective when used as a preventative to protect new season’s foliage on pest-susceptible plants like azaleas.

Scales are harder to control than aphids because these sap-sucking pests hide beneath protective coatings. Sometimes their sticky waste encourages growth of an ugly blackfungus called sooty mould. To get rid of the mould, you need to remove the scale. You can do this in many cases with a systemic spray (Confidor) or an oil (like Yates White Oil). Yates Scale Gun combines a pyrethrum insecticide with white oil, which greatly increases its effectiveness. An old toothbrush, too, can be used to give scales the ‘brush-off’.

Damage caused by leaf eaters is much easier to identify because these pests literally chew holes in the leaves. Caterpillars are the most common – use naturally-derived Success or Dipel – but also be on the lookout for other chewers like snails and slugs.

When your plants are under attack, it’s important to identify the pest or disease that’s causing the damage before you attempt to do anything about it. One of your best friends in this task is the problem solver section of the Yates website www.yates.com.au. There are dozens of pictures of garden problems, and commonsense suggestions for controlling them.


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