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Not only are my plants blooming beautiful flowers right now, but some of the seeds I recently planted are sprouting seedlings! With all this growth also comes dreaded pests, like aphids. Today I want to discuss how to get rid of aphids on plants.
Here in Southern California with our mild and ideal climate conditions, there are still pests and sicknesses that can ail plants. Thankfully, aphids are one of the few pests that disturb my plants. They love showing up on my hibiscus and rosebuds, much to my dismay.
The aphids I’ve seen around here are green, but they can also be white, orange, black, yellow and grey. They like hanging out on the buds of my mini roses and hibiscus flowers. Aphids also can be found under leaves, so don’t forget to check places where you can’t see them.
What are aphids?
Aphids are tiny bugs that love to feed on plants. Aphids love to feed off of the sugary liquid that comes from plant flowers and leaves where the nutrients are located. Aphids will also attack houseplants if they find a way indoors.
If these pests are left alone, they repopulate quickly, and can swiftly become an infestation issue. Here are some more facts about aphids:
- Aphids can live a several weeks up to several months.
- Females can reproduce asexually (without males). This only happens in the springtime. During the fall they produce babies sexually.
- Stinging wasps, ladybugs, lacewings, pirate bugs, crab spiders, and big-eyed bugs are great to have around since they like to eat aphids.
- Aphid feed off plants during the daytime and nighttime.
- These bugs go through three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult.
- Some aphids can make female soldiers. The reason these aphids exist are to watch over and protect their mother.
- Aphids are very small and grow from 0.04 to 0.39 inches long.
- Aphids feed on plants by sucking up sap from leaves, stems, roots, and buds. The sticky drops that are left over are called honeydew.
- Ants love honeydew and will protect aphids so that they can continue to benefit from the honeydew.
- Sometimes aphids will give birth to winged aphids, but only when these winged pests are needed to find other plants to feed off of.
How to Get Rid of Aphids on Plants
Now that you know a little more about aphids, here are some ways to get rid of them. I am only going to mention organic ways, since I love using natural and homemade methods.
Water and Soap
This is my personal favorite way to eliminate aphids. My husband and I have a water bottle that we use when our cats misbehave. When I spot aphids on my hibiscus and mini roses, I open the water bottle and drip a little dish soap in the bottle. I put the lid back on, shake the bottle, and its ready to kill some aphids!
Remove by Hand
You can also just remove aphids by hand. This can be tricky since they are so small. Put on gardening gloves and you can pinch the aphids off your plants or use a brush to get rid of them this way. You can also prune the branches where the aphids are hanging out and put these in soapy water to kill them.
This method is doable with a few aphids. It may be too time-consuming to remove a bunch by hand though.
Natural Insecticidal Soap
Insecticidal soaps are another option to get rid of aphids. No mixing is required and you can purchase these at your local gardening supply store or online.
Pressure from Water
Water pressure can reduce the aphid population in your garden. Use a water hose to get rid of the pests. Water pressure can hurt younger plants that are still establishing themselves in your garden, but this method works well with older plants that can withstand the pressure.
Animal and Plant Helpers
There are certain birds that like to eat aphids. These are chickadees, titmice, and wrens. You may or may not live in an area where these birds live, but if you do, make sure you have plants that these birds love to next in. These include abelia, hydrangea, boxwood, and other small trees and plants.
You can also attract insects to your garden that will help keep away aphids. Ladybugs are well known to keep aphids and other pests away from plants. These can be purchased from garden supply stores and online stores. Lacewings and hoverflies can also keep aphids away from your garden.
You want to plant certain plants in your garden to attract these insects. Plant herbs such as oregano, garlic, and catnip to bring in hoverflies. Lacewings and ladybugs love yarrow, mint, clover, fennel, and dill.
Aphids don’t like the smell of garlic and onions. Have these around your plants or grow them where you don’t want to attract aphids.
You can also grow certain plants to attract aphids to one area of your garden, away from your prized plants. Grow plants such as asters, dahlias, cosmos, and zinnias that the aphids will happily use as food.
Neem oil works in a similar way as water and dish soap. Put some drops of neem oil in water and spray onto plants infested with aphids. Other garden pests will also stay away from neem oil, such as caterpillars, beetles, mealy bugs, leafminers,cabbage worms, and ants.
Certain essential oils can also work to keep away aphids. Place several drops of clove, thyme, rosemary, and peppermint into a spray bottle with water. Shake this solution and place on plants where aphids are hanging out.
Get Rid of Aphids
This list is by no means final. There are other natural ways to get rid of aphids. I hope you enjoyed how to get rid of aphids on plants. How do you get rid of aphids on your plants? Let me know in the comments section below!