News: New Borders


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New Borders

Over the last few weeks, I have been digging a new border at the front of the house, which I will plant with early lilies (Asiatic hybrids) and dahlias. Next November I will add tulips which should deliver nearly continuous flowering from spring until late autumn. As it is now mid-March and I have not yet planted any lilies I had better get on. As I am focusing on planting lilies now is probably a good time to try and address the subject of the lily beetle. With some effort, this can be controlled in the garden.

The red beetle overwinters in the ground and emerges from late March. Their eggs are laid on the underside of the plants leaf from late April until mid-summer. This is when the damage starts as the larvae feed on the foliage. When done they return to the ground to pupate, leaving a covering of what looks like bird droppings on top of the soil and the plants, and emerge as adults in mid-summer when they carry on the feeding damage.

I have read that scent does play a part in their spreading although I am not totally convinced. In my garden, the problem is very localised impacting only one group planting. Lilies in other parts of the garden somehow remain unaffected. If you have any suggestions as to how the beetles can be prevented from emerging or finding the lilies in the first place I would be grateful for your advice.

Science is not always helpful in our gardening practices; horticulture is generally too far down the food chain to claim the required resources. Much of what we do has to be based on experience, passed along tips and trial and error.

Here are a few pointers that may help: -
  •  Remove any larvae from the underside of the leaves as soon as it appears 
  •  The beetles will immediately fall from the plant if disturbed. Place an old white sheet under the plant for them to be visible when they drop, they are a challenge to catch if they fall on bare soil. 
  •  If you find evidence of the larvae in the soil (it looks like bird droppings on the surface) cover sparingly with cooking oil, this will help prevent the new adults from emerging. 
  •  If all else fails resort to spraying. This should be only done late in the day after the full strength of the sun has passed avoiding any burning to the plants.

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