Insects in Plants or Landscaping

Problem: Insects are found on plants, in gardens, or in landscaping.

Background: Many chemicals are available for controlling the insects that infest outdoor areas around the home. The following suggestions are alternative, no chemical methods of preventing or reducing many Of these pests. If the suggestions don’t seem to be effective, contact your local extension service office or an experienced nursery person.

What to do: For aphids, remove by dislodging with water spray and spraying with Safer soap solution. Preserve natural predators by protecting ladybugs and lacewings in their immature stage. Plant resistant varieties of honeysuckle which deter witches’ broom aphids. For apple maggots, remove fallen apples. For a standard-sized tree, hang 8 sticky apple traps, or make them using 3-inch diameter spheres painted bright red or black and coated with a sticky substance such as Tanglefoot or Stickem Special (available in gar den centers).
For cabbage looper and imported cabbage worm, remove caterpillars by hand. Apply Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural material available under a variety of product names. For Colorado potato beetle, remove immature- and adult-stage insects by hand. Apply san diego Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural material. The san diego variety is specifically for beetle adults and is available under the name M-ONE. For cut- worms, place cardboard collars around the transplants, making sure the cardboard extends at least 2 inches above and below the ground (the center core from paper towels works well). Remove cutworms by hand that are hiding in burrows near plants during the day, and those found above ground at night. For European corn borer and corn earworm, apply Bacillus thuringiensis.
For flea beetles, control weeds. For hornworms, handpick caterpillars and apply Bacillus thuringiensis. For iris borer, remove old stalks and plant debris in late summer. Remove and destroy infested plants. For picnic, sap, and fungus beetles, re move damaged and overripe fruit and vegetables. Regularly harvest crops as they ripen. Remove rose chafers by hand. Place a cheesecloth barrier around plants as protection during the chafer’s flight period in early summer. For squash vine borer, slit the plant’s stem length wise at the point of attack, remove larvae from vines by hand and cover vines with moist soil to encourage new growth.

Special advice: Don’t bring infested plants into the home. For plants in the home, remove caterpillars, slugs and other pests by hand; for spider mites, wash leaves with a mild detergent solution, swab with rubbing alcohol, or spray with Safers soap solution; for scales and mealy bugs, remove with rubbing alcohol or spray with Safers soap solution; for aphids, spray plants with a Safers soap solution; for fungus gnats and springtails, allow soil to dry to a depth of 1 inch before watering; re pot plants affected by millipedes.

Helpful hint: For slugs outdoors, control soil moisture by watering only when necessary; remove by hand. Remove dead leaves and other potential hiding places. Cups filled with beer sunk in the ground will attract and drown slugs. Place boards and shingles on the ground, and remove any slugs attracted to such areas.

Butterfly Bush – Plant care guides

It is a delight to watch all types of butterflies sip nectar from the abundant flowers on this aptly named shrub.

About This Plant

Butterfly bush is a large, arching shrub that produces masses of flowers in midsummer to fall. Flower colors include blue, pink, red, violet, yellow, and white, and the shrub grows 5 to 10 feet tall and wide, depending on the variety. Butterfly bushes grow well in shrub or perennial borders, and the fragrant flowers can be used for cutting.

Special Features

• Easy care/low maintenance
• Fragrant
• Good for cut flowers
• Attracts butterflies
• Site Selection

Select a site with full sun and moist, well-drained soil.

Planting Instructions

Plant in spring or fall, spacing plants 5 to 10 feet apart, depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the rootball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the rootball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.


Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Flowers are produced on new wood, so prune back old growth almost to the ground early each spring before any new growth emerges.

Butterfly Gardening – Plant care guides

What is butterfly gardening? Simply put butterfly gardening is the art of growing flowers and plants that will attract these colorful and dainty creatures to your garden. Delight your family and visitors with beautiful butterflies, but be sure to create a safe habitat for them. If you own cats rethink your plans, because it would be a shame to attract these lovely insects to their death.

The design your butterfly garden is a matter of personal preference. Typical points to consider are the size of your garden and the types of flowers and plants you want to grow. Pick a style of garden that appeals to you, but ensure it also contains the plants and flowers that appeal to the butterflies you wish to attract.

It is important to find out which plants and flowers will attract the species of butterflies. That live in your area. This information can be found at the local library
To create the kind of environment that they find attractive, you will also need water of some kind. A birdbath will look attractive and keep the butterflies up off the ground, away from stray cats or mischievous puppies. A shallow dish on a post or hung in a tree will do just as well.

When planting your butterfly garden be careful how you coordinate the colors you choose for your flowerbeds. Although butterflies do not care about your choice of color, you don’t want your garden to be a hodgepodge of unrelated colors and textures. Butterflies are attracted to those flowers that have nectar rather than pollen, like honeysuckle, milkweed, summer lilac, Valerian, daisies, Purple Coneflower, Yellow Sage, day lilies and lavender.

Some people find it helpful to draw and color a layout of their butterfly gardening plan to see what the finished product would look like. Keep in mind that warm colors like red and orange are flashy and showy. These colors have a greater impact against a strong green background. Cool colors such as blue and purple are soothing and toned down and would work better with a white contrast to create the look of freshness and brightness.

Brussels Sprouts – Plant care guides

Brussels sprouts are slow-growing, long-season vegetables belonging to the cabbage family. The sprouts look like miniature cabbages and form where the leaves meet the stems. Freshly harvested, lightly steamed sprouts are a delight.

About This Plant

Even though Brussels sprouts have been a mealtime tradition for hundreds of years, many people dislike them. You may change your mind, however, if you grow your own. The difference between frozen supermarket sprouts and your own, fresh from the garden, is unbelievable. Brussels sprouts improve in flavor after a light frost.

Site Selection

Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.

Planting Instructions

Fall-harvested crops are generally more successful than summer-harvested crops. Date of maturity varies, depending on variety, location, and season. Count backward from the first fall frost date to figure out the best time to start plants. Plan to start seeds in flats or pots four to six weeks before planting in the garden, or buy nursery transplants if available. You can also sow seeds directly in the garden four months before the average first fall frost date.

To start plants indoors, sow seeds 1 inch apart in flats. Transplant into 2-1/2 inch pots after the first two true leaves appear. When roots are established, transplant to the garden, spacing the plants 14 to 24 inches apart. To sow seeds directly in the garden, plant four to five seeds per foot to a depth of 1/4 inch.


Thin the healthiest direct-seeded plants to stand 14 to 24 inches apart when they are 4 to 5 inches tall. Mulch to retain moisture in summer heat and to control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. When sprouts reach half the desired size, remove the lowest leaves on the plant to enable the sprouts to attain maximum size. To induce early maturity, pinch out the growing tip when sprouts have formed on 10 to 12 inches of the stem. This directs the plant’s energy into making earlier, larger sprouts. Contact your local county extension office for controls of common Brussels sprouts pests, such as aphids, flea beetles, cabbageworms, and cabbage loopers.

Broccoli – Plant care guides

A member of the cabbage family, broccoli is grown for its edible, immature flower heads. One of the most nutritious vegetables, broccoli contains high levels of antioxidants.

About This Plant

Broccoli prefers cool temperatures. In many regions it can be grown as both a spring and fall crop. Choose varieties touted for their abundant side shoots to extend the harvest; once the central head is harvested, these side shoots will continue to produce small heads for weeks.

Site Selection

Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2-to 4-inch layer of compost.

Planting Instructions

Start spring transplants indoors five to seven weeks before the last spring frost date, or buy nursery transplants three weeks before the last spring frost date. Where the weather is warm, select a variety that is bolt resistant. Set out transplants three to four weeks before the last spring frost. Space plants 18 inches apart. Protect transplants from hard frosts with newspapers, plastic cones, paper bags, or baskets. Provide a windbreak to reduce transplant shock and moisture loss. For fall crops, direct seed the broccoli in the garden 85 to 100 days before the average first fall frost date.


Harvest for peak quality when the buds of the head are firm and tight. If buds start to separate and the yellow petals inside start to show, harvest immediately.


Mulch plants to help keep soil moist, and water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Contact your local County Extension office for controls of common broccoli pests such as flea beetles, cabbageworms, and cabbage loopers.

Blueberry – Plant care guides

Fully ripened blueberries have sweetness and aroma that store-bought blueberries cannot match, and the attractive shrubs are easy to grow and maintain.

About This Plant

Select blueberry varieties adapted to your area. In the South, look for Southern high-bush blueberries or rabbiteye blueberries. In the north, select highbush or lowbush varieties with the appropriate hardiness ratings. Half-high varieties are more ornamental but not as productive as high-bush varieties.

Site Selection

Select a site in full sun, with well-drained soil. Blueberries need a soil pH between 4.5 and 5.5 to thrive. Do a pH test and add the appropriate amounts of ammonium sulfate or sulfur to lower the pH of the soil before planting. On loam or clay loam soil, grow plants in raised beds — 4 feet wide and 9 inches high — for better water drainage. Blueberries grow best in a moist but not soggy wet soil. Amend the beds with compost before planting to help retain soil moisture.

Planting Instructions

Plant in early spring. For bare-root plants, dig a hole 18 inches wide. Mix some compost with topsoil and place this back in the hole until the hole is filled 4 inches from the top. Place the plant in the hole and cover the roots with the remaining compost/soil mix. Set plants 5 feet apart in rows 10 feet apart. Mulch with a 4-inch-thick layer of sawdust or bark mulch, spread 2 feet wide around the plants. Maintain the mulch depth throughout the growing season. Water well.


Fertilize based on a soil test each spring. An annual application of compost may be adequate. Maintain a 4-inch-thick layer of mulch to conserve moisture and water the planting with a soaker hose or drip irrigation for best berry production. Blueberries have shallow roots. Cultivate shallowly to keep down weeds, but be careful not to damage the surface roots.

Prune during the dormant season. Starting in the fourth year, remove dead and weak branches. Thin out branches smaller than the diameter of a pencil. As the bush ages, remove old, unproductive branches to stimulate new growth, leaving 6 to 8 productive branches. Prune interior crossing branches to admit light to the center of the plant. Although generally troublefree, blueberries are susceptible to a number of different disease and insect pests, depending on region. Contact your cooperative extension office for information on managing pests in your area.


By growing early, mid, and late-season varieties you can harvest blueberries from early summer until fall. Blueberries ripen over a two- to five-week period. Harvest highbush blueberries every 5 days as the color becomes a deep blue. Harvest rabbiteye blueberries every 10 days; their flavor improves the longer they stay on the bush. Gently roll berries between your thumb and forefinger, removing fully ripe berries and leaving unripe berries for the next picking.

Bleeding Heart – Plant care guides

Bleeding heart has attractive mounded foliage with arching stems of delicate, heart-shaped flowers in spring. It thrives in moist woodland gardens along with ferns and other shade-lovers.

About This Plant

Bleeding heart grows best in cool, moist conditions. Flower colors include yellow, pink, red, and white. It blooms in spring and may rebloom sporadically throughout the summer in cool areas. Height ranges from 6 inches to 2 feet, depending on variety.

Site Selection

Select a site with light to medium shade and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.

• Special Features

• Deer resistant

• Care

Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above soil line.

Blackberry – Plant care guides

Blackberries are among the easiest fruits to grow at home, and their attractive berries are a welcome midsummer treat.

About This Plant

Blackberries are classified botanically as Rubus, a genus that also includes raspberries. Blackberries may be called dewberries in some areas. Boysenberries, marionberries, or loganberries are not separate species, just common names for different blackberry varieties.

You may be tempted to start your blackberry patch with plants from a neighbor, but don

Site Selection

Choose a well-drained site in full sun at least 300 feet from any wild blackberries. Construct trellises for trailing varieties before planting.

Planting Instructions

Plant in early spring in most areas; in mild-winter areas of the south and Pacific Coast, plant in fall or winter. Space upright varieties at 3-foot intervals in rows 8 feet apart. Set trailing varieties 5 to 8 feet apart in rows 6 to 10 feet apart. Set plants 1 inch deeper than they were grown in the nursery.


Cultivate shallowly; the roots are near the surface. Mulch with a thick layer of shredded bark, wood chips, leaves.

Best Gardening Tools

Different kinds of gardens require different kinds of garden tools. Hardware stores mostly cater for a wide range of tools, but there are shops that specialize in the more expensive kind of garden tool that shouts quality. Wherever you decide to shop, here are a few pointers to advise you.

Do you have small garden or a large one? A small garden will not require the same large equipment that would be of use in an extensive one. A ride-on mower is unnecessary if you only have a small strip of lawn. Another point to consider is who does most of the gardening? Some tools are too heavy for use by women.

When you buy secateurs make sure the blade always stays sharp to avoid damaging the plant. Look for models that have blades that can be sharpened or replaced, models with tension control and with sizes that best fit your hands. Secateurs usually cost around $50 – $130.

Hedge trimmers or shears are handy – but only if you have a hedge, or plan on growing one. Some hedge trimmers have curved blades to stop branches from sliding out when cut.

Forks are used for turning and aerating compost and breaking up lumps of soil. The cheaper ones are often not strong enough for heavy soil, so go for sturdiness instead of price. Forks usually cost around $30 – $100.

A shovel has a scoop blade and is best used to move around dirt and garden soil. A spade has a flat blade great for cutting edges, digging and dividing plants. The edge of a spade should be kept sharpened for clean and efficient cutting will cause the least amount of damage to plants. These are a basic garden necessity and usually cost from $30 – $50.

A pruning saw is used for pruning trees and larger shrubs, while secateurs are for plants like roses. Pruning saws have a narrow curved blade that fits between stems or branches and easily and cuts them as you pull the saw backwards. They are approximately $27- $55.

A chipping hoe is a handy tool for getting rid of small weeds. The Dutch or push-hoe is slightly more user-friendly as the action required to use it does not jar the neck and shoulder quite so much.

A rake is also a basic requirement for the garden. The strong rake with the flat head and sharp metal prongs is used for smoothing a garden bed and getting out the last of the bumps and weeds. The plastic rake is used to gather leaves and grass clippings only.

Gardening tools don’t have to be expensive. Flea markets and garage sales can be excellent places to pick up great tool bargain.

Benefits of gardening for kids

Apparently, we can see how nature is treated these days. It is a sad thing to know that people do not pay attention so much anymore to the environmental problems. What can we do about this? It’s as simple as starting with the children. It is good to see the children’s involvement with environment-friendly activities. One such nature-loving activity that children could easily get their hands on is gardening. Why should you consider gardening for your children?

Here are the benefits that gardening could easily provide the children with:

1. Science

In planting, children are indirectly taught the wonders of science like the plant’s life cycle and how human’s intervention can break or make the environment. They can have a first hand experience on the miracle of life through a seed. This would definitely be a new and enjoyable experience for the kids.

2. Life

Watching a seed grow into a tree is just as wondrous as the conception to birth and growth of a child. In time, kids will learn to love their plants and appreciate the life in them. Gardening could actually help simulate how life should be treated — it should be with care. The necessities to live will be emphasized to kids with the help of gardening – water, sunlight, air, soil. Those necessities could easily be corresponded to human necessities, i.e., water, shelter, air, food. By simply weeding out, one could educate how bad influences should be avoided to be able to live life smoothly.

3. Relaxation

Studies show that gardening can reduce stress because of its calming effect. This is applicable to any age group. More so, it stimulates all the five senses. Believe it or not, gardening may be used as therapy to children who have been abused or those who are members of broken homes. It helps build one’s self-esteem.

4. Quality Time with the Family

You can forget about your stressful work life for a while be soothed by the lovely ambience in the garden. You can play and spend quality time with your children. You can talk while watering the plants or you can work quietly beside each other. The bottom line is, always do what you have to do, together with your kids. You might discover a lot of new things about your child while mingling with them in your garden.

Let kids become aware of their environment’s needs. And one way to jumpstart that environmental education may be through gardening. It’s hitting two birds with one stone — teach them to respect life while you bond with them.