Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, June 6, 2008

I've been on Bug Patrol



I'm getting really good at catching the despicable bug that is again decimating my Phlox...the once beautiful P paniculata. I can creep up on him and clap him away with both hands with a thunderous applause that he has gone to wherever bad bugs go.

All my attempts at good garden sanitation practices, monitoring and insecticidal soap has come to naught! The phlox bug (Lopedea davisi) is back... not in the huge numbers of last year, but enough to do damage to the leaves and make me want to cut it all down and toss it in the garbage. Sigh. I don't think I can grow summer phlox here anymore and I am doubly sick.

Phlox paniculata has been the backbone of this garden for years. They were a gift from the previous owner and they were spectacular...even having reverted to species pink by the time I got them. You know I love that magenta color. Plus they really didn't mind the shade!

They were important to the garden. They had gone to seed and were peppered about the garden... dozens of plants. A smorgasbord for both good and evil bugs! But they flowered well into the summer and dead-heading helped keep them flowering. They would grow in semi-shade and brought a bright shot of color to an other wise green expanse. I miss them.

Then there is P paniculata 'David' the perfect southern summer gentlemen...no mildew and a beautiful white flower. I planted him a few years ago and he was coming along nicely...then last year, after a long vacation, I noticed he was just too sick looking. I cut him back and then dug him out...thinking that refreshing the soil and planting a new bit of him would be better...But this spring I couldn't bring myself to plant any P paniculata....not until I was certain the bug was under control.

I may have to move to bigger guns...real pesticides...I hate them...I love the creatures that live here and don't want any accidents. It's a big dilemma!

This garden needs phlox...It's beautiful and stately almost reaching 5 foot tall, with a sweet fragrance that lures swallowtail, Painted Lady, fritillary, skipper and sulphur butterflies during the day and Hummingbird, Sphinx and and Hawkmoths at night. Now that's faunal association!

Did, I already say I am sick about this? I surely am....If I can't have phlox what should I plant?

Gail

"A gardener learns more in the mistakes than in the successes."...Barbara Borland


Both photos are from the Missouri Botanical Kemper Center...thank you.




26 comments:

  1. Lobelia hybrids - especially 'Monet Moment.' It's not magenta, but is it a blooming machine. It's also got the height & the long blooming time. But really I'm hoping you will be able to grow Phlox paniculata again.

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  2. mmd,

    Me, too! It is a beautiful plant and so all around giving! I will check into the Lobelia hybrids...I have seen Monet's Moment...lovely. I can let go of magenta.

    Gail

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  3. I haven't had phlox in my garden. It comes up but never blooms so what shall you plant instead? Brown eyes are great as are some of the small crepes like Razzle Dazzle. And like MMD said the lobelias can substitute, i think they like lots of water-kind of like garden phlox? Sounds like a winner.

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  4. Do the pests make the phlox look that horrible? I can't imagine not growing a plants because of a couple of pests. Maybe add a little more variety to cut back on the number of them that your plants attract???

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  6. Tina,

    I will have a huge bloom of black eyed Susans but the phlox is a nice counterpoint to it...They give color and verticality to the place and provide nectar for the bees and butterflies. I will keep looking!

    Gail

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  7. cindy,

    It was pretty horribly disfigured last year and didn't bloom! I am going to visit the native plant nursery and see what they say!

    Gail

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  8. Ugh, I'm sorry to hear about your bug problem. That flower is so pretty. The organic insecticide soap has worked pretty well for my veggies, but I guess it doesn't work for everything. Grr, that is so upsetting. Poor flower, and it can't do anything to defend itself! *sighs*

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  9. DP,

    I think I need to move them all out and replenish all the soil and see if I can nurse them back to health.

    Which insecticidal soap do you use?

    Gail

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  10. Tina,

    No summer phlox? No P paniculata or maculata?

    Gail

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  11. That is so sad. I've never heard of this phlox bug, but it sounds horrible. Up here in my garden, phlox won't start blooming for awhile, so I still have them to look forward to and have been trying to find more to plant. My favorite in my garden is 'Creme de Menthe'.

    In a few weeks, the Japanese beetles will be back and I'll be cursing and killing them as fast as I can!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

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  12. Carol,

    We don't have as many of the Japanese beetles as you do...maybe I don't have the buffet they prefer...They do seem to like the japanese anemone...Honorine Jobert, (which is not really happy here and I think I should move her to another spot...why didn't I think of this earlier in the season.)

    I haven't completely given up on the phlox....I am heading over to google to check out your favorite phlox.

    gail

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  13. I love phlox paniculata a lot. sad to hear about that bug :( maybe you will find a solution to keep it.
    Greetings,
    E.

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  14. Sorry to hear about your bug problems. I'm dealing with an aphid issue on the tomatoes so I can identify a little. I use Safer brand insecticidal soap and it seems to help.

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  15. Ewa,

    Hello...how are you? I have company in town...well you know how companyy is!

    I am working on this bug!

    Gail

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  16. Dave,

    Yes I am using it, too. Hoping i can get them under control. These bugs love the hot plant stressing weather we are having.

    Good luck with the tomatoes.

    Gail

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  17. Oh dear, not your phlox! I really don't have any suggestions, Gail, for what else to plant, except that I'm a coneflower lover, and nothing seems to bother them.
    As to insecticides, that is always a dilemma. I hope that one of your earlier commenters' suggestions works and that the phlox come back!

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  18. Rose,

    I don't know what to do either! I will dig them all up and lots of the soil and see if letting the soil be for a season helps...then plant next year! I love coneflower, too...especially the TN Coneflower, our native that's been on the endangered species list. You might like them, too. They are just a bit different with petals that are upward turning and a deeper color. Rocky Top is a hybridized selection you might see at nurseries.

    gail


    Gail

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  19. I'm so sorry--you are the phlox gal around here and this is sad. I was looking up some stuff this week on oils for pest control. Neem is suppose to be tested on a small area to make sure it's not going to hurt the plant. Other oils are only used for woody plants. But the neem has been successfully used on bedding plants. Have your tried Neem?
    Anna..FGG

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  20. So sorry about your phlox Gail. It's hard to imagine a garden without it. It was one of the first perennials I planted in my first long-ago perennial garden, and has been a mainstain since. I hope you can find a remedy!

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  21. Anna,

    I haven't tried it but thank you for thinking about me and me (bug troubles)!
    I love phlox, it is such a worthy garden plant...I will look into the NEEM products.

    Gail

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  22. GG,
    A garden without summer phlox is that a garden! I am working on this problem... in the meantime I still go on bug patrol. I hear it is hot up your way!


    gail

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  23. Gail: I would suggest trying the neem also. Spray in early morning or late afternoon as it has been known to have a burning effect. It is organic and safe to use although some have a sensitivity to it if they have prolonged skin contact.

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  24. Thanks, Layanee...I will check with the local nursery to see what they carry. I was just out there clapping them away!

    Gail

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  25. Oh, that's so disappointing about your phlox. I used to love the stuff when I gardened in Wisconsin. And they smelled so good!

    One thing I've been doing is buying beneficial insects. A couple of local nurseries carry them. Maybe there's a source that carries a bug that would find your phlox bug a gourmet delicacy?

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  26. Gail, I wonder if I have that insect here? I will have to go out and take a look later today.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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