May 19, 2007

I hate my snowball bush!

To the point that I am thinking of digging up my Viburnum opulus roseum. I planted this baby two years ago. Last year it showed every sign of settling in well, despite the attack of the mad arborist. This spring - oh joy! - flower buds. Visions of big fluffy floral snowballs floated in my head.

Then I read online that this particular viburnum is subject to aphid attacks. I was pretty sanguine about it. I hadn't seen the slightest sign of aphids in two years. Two days later - I kid you not - I followed the trail of some over-enthusiastic ants to find colonies of black aphids at the growing tips.

Black aphids on Viburnum opulusThis is patently unfair! I should give up reading on the Internet; it appears to be bad for my plants. I pulled out the all-purpose spray, which is definitely fatal to aphids. The problem is, these bugs are very good at protecting themselves. As they attack a leaf, it curls around them and makes them very difficult to spray. You can see the curled leaf in the photo. It's virtually impossible to get them all, no matter how good the spray is. So I'm going to go out and snip off all the affected parts and drop them into soapy water. If that doesn't work the temptation to dig the thing out will grow even greater.

Perhaps a Japanese maple...

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14 comments:

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Oh... that sucks. :( How flexible are those stems? If the aphids are just at the tips, can you bend the stems enough to dip and swish the tips in a bucket/jar of the spray stuff and water? Or can you bend them upside down so you can spray the undersides of the leaves?

You've probably already thought of all of this... but I'm grasping for straws here! Hope it all works out okay...

bogie said...

I had that problem with a plum and pear tree for over a decade. I finally just got rid of all the fruit trees last year (the apples and peaches were in horrid shape anyway) and am planting ornamentals / natives this year. I'm hoping that I have broken the cycle but am probably just fooling myself.

waterroots said...

Darn, those insects! I hate Aphids. Maybe you can keep spraying for a little while longer in hopes that those sweet Lady Bugs show up soon (Aphids are their favourite snack) and help you out. I guess I’m just hoping that the Aphids don’t win this battle…

By the way, welcome back! It’s great to see you once more in the cyber world!

Crafty Gardener said...

I have enjoyed reading through your posts since you returned to blogging. Lots of good info, especially about the lily beetle. I continue to examine my lilies daily in hopes of not finding any.

Janet said...

I'm still snipping. BSG, actually, I hadn't thought of dipping the ends in the soapy water without snipping. I think I'll try it. It seems so obvious now that you've pointed it out, but it just never occurred to me.

Being on the lazy - er, laid back side, I'm not too likely to dig up the snowball bush unless I get really, really frustrated. I would dearly love to see a few red ladybugs on patrol.

As for the other red beetles, I think I squashed the last one today. For several days I saw quite a few - usually in pairs, making them much easier to catch in their distracted state, and then they fell off sharply. But there was one that was particularly good at slipping through my fingers. I got it today. It does look like I've won that particular war at least this year.

Bogie, so sorry to hear you had to give up on the fruit trees. I'm going to have to try to curb my spontaneous enthusiasm and make sure I never buy another shrub or tree without researching its potential pests firsts. Live and learn.

*waves at Waterroots*

Thanks, Crafty. I sure hope you don't see any. But if you win the battle in May, you can probably breathe easy for the rest of the year.

Ames Tiedeman said...

Do you use a greenhouse?

Janet said...

Ames, I should be so lucky. No room for a greenhouse in my restricted space.

The snowball bush is history, by the way. When I found out it wasn't even a real snowball bush, but some other viburnum with very non-descript flowers and a few straggly berries, I had enough. And I will no longer be ordering from that mail order company. That's not the first time they sent the wrong thing.

Carlo said...

Good Job! :)

dony said...

I have read your blog. Article is very useful for me. You are very creative

Janet said...

Thanks Carlo, Dony.

I have a PG hydrangea in that spot now, and so far it's doing just fine.

Erik said...

I am having EXACTLY the same issue this year with our "snowball bush" viburnum. Unbelievable the number of aphids covering it! I am not spraying (so far) . . . I did notice two ladybugs caught in flagrante delicto, which I view as a good thing; so hopefully soon I'll have flocks of ladybugs descending upon the hapless aphids.

Janet said...

Gotta love lady bugs. You can help them overwinter in your garden by not cleaning up too thoroughly in the fall, giving them insulated places to hide. Of course, other less welcome beasties might benefit too, but I think it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

Those aphids are on my snowball bushes too. A local gardening shop sells bags of ladybugs for this very purpose. I thought of buying a bag.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

that's so sad! I love mine and its doing so well this year!

I hope you can bring it back!