How to Prevent Pests and Diseases in Your Flower Garden
Pests and diseases can create huge headaches for gardeners, but the good news is that with your help, healthy plants are usually able to withstand serious problems.
Here are some tips on preventing pests and diseases before they settle in for the long haul.
Maintain healthy soil by adding at least 5 cm of organic matter such as Sea Compost or Composted Cattle Manure every year. Mulch around plants to maintain soil temperature and prevent evaporation. However, limit mulch to a thin layer if slugs are a problem.
Keep your flower garden clean. Rake up plant debris in fall, as leaves and other debris harbor pathogens and hiding places for pests.
Plant disease-resistant plant varieties as often as possible. Many flowers can fend off common diseases such as mildew and rust.
Beware of overcrowding, as a crowded flower bed inhibits healthy air circulation. Moist conditions are breeding grounds for fungi and other pathogens.
Pull or hoe weeds as they appear. Weeds compete with flowers for moisture and nutrients. Block air circulation and provide convenient hiding places for pests.
Keep a close eye on your flowers. Remove any plant parts that show signs of disease.
Sanitize pruners and other garden tools with rubbing alcohol or a solution of one-part bleach to nine-parts water. Dirty tools can harbor disease.
Don’t panic if you notice a few bugs, as most plants can handle small amounts of pest damage. Monitor the plant and treat minor infestations with insecticidal soap spray or horticultural oil.
Avoid pesticides, which kill ladybugs, parasitic wasps, lacewings and other beneficial insects that dine on bad bugs. Pesticides often do more harm than good because many pests become resistant to the chemicals.
Plant flowers such as yarrow, cosmos, English lavender, sweet alyssum, monarda, and other plants that attract beneficial insects.
Water plants at soil level. Avoid overhead sprinklers and keep the foliage as dry as possible. Wet foliage is more susceptible to fungi and other moisture-related problems. Water early in the day so the leaves have time to dry before evening.