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Aphids on young indoor basil

The young plants are too tender to spray with any force or to attempt to pick the aphids off.  I have tried the washing up liquid solution trick with a light spray and several applications have had no effect whatsoever.  When peered at through a magnifying glass the aphids seem to have enjoyed the bath.

Oh, and there's no chance of me growing and stewing any rhubarb leaves in time to kill off these bugs.  I have three basils growing side by side in a long planter.  One of them so far is unaffected, I wonder what its secret is?

A very young-looking Monty Don has a video here https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/solve-problems/how-to-deal-with-aphids/ but being the BBC the commercial products he suggests aren't clearly advertised, and anyway were probably discontinued years ago.  I have searched online and found similar products but, to be perfectly honest, I never trust manufacturers' and sellers' claims.  In my experience they are usually wildly "optimistic", and the misleading optimism rises with the price of the product.  And if it's cheaper to  buy basil in the supermarket than grow it in my kitchen, why bother? The joy of growing your own is lost when the plants don't thrive.

I need something that works and I need it quickly if these basils are to be saved.  It has to come by post due to COVID.  Can anyone name a product that works and is safe to use indoors.

I'd love to use ladybirds, but I can't see them making a home on my kitchen windowsill.

It's the very end of November as I write, if that makes any difference.

Thank you for any genuine recommendations.

Michael Hooker


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  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 73,780
    What I do is to fill my washing up bowl with lukewarm water and a squirt or two of washing up detergent ... not a lot. 

    Then I pick up the pot of basil and spread my fingers across the top of the pot with the basil stems between my fingers. Then I turn the pot upside down and swoosh it around gently in the water.  Leave the plant to drain. It will look pretty sodden and floppy but as it dries it will recover. Do this again in a few days and repeat whenever there’s a problem. 
    It works for us ... hope it does for you too smile 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,689
    The tap in my scullery has a spray option so I can, if needed, hold the leaves and stems of affected plants in my hand and use gentle pressure to spray off the blighters but even that always misses a few and one aphid can multiply itself exponentially all on its ownsome so I have taken too using a similar method to that described by @Dovefromabove but in a bucket cos it's deeper.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Sorry, sounds brilliant, but impossible for me.  There's no way I can hold the long heaver planter upside down and keep the stems between my fingers.  And I just know half the soil would fall into the washing-up bowl !  The plants aren't big enough yet for fingers to hold the soft stems without damaging them and I really doubt if they have enough roots yet to hold the soil together.  The planter is one of those "self-watering" things that sits in a base that you top up from the side.
    I did wonder if there was some devious way of killing aphids instantly with high frequency sound or intense UV light or something like that.  I know deafening hip-hop music doesn't do it, my neighbours kids try all the time.  Not at my request, I might add.

    Thanks for the suggestion anyway - it might help someone else!
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,689
    If the plants are that small move them to individual pots till they're big enough to cope!  They'll be a lot happier, grow away faster and be easier to manoeuvre while you see off the aphids.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • I cover the plant pot and soil with a plastic bag and tie it so that the soil doesn't fall out.
  • The plants are struggling enough to grow indoors, with not enough light and not much heat as it is. My kitchen is not a conservatory. Trying to move them will just see them off, as I said the stems are quite fragile still - indeed they seem to be getting more fragile with the weight opf the leaves on them.
    And I'm sorry, there is no way of tying a plastic bag around the planter without damaging the plants with the tying - unless the bag is tied above the level of the plants, and maybe we suffocate the blessed aphids.
    Can anyone actually recommend a commercial product like Monty did, please, one that's available and works? Kills the bugs and not those who eat the basil. That was my essential question.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 73,780
    edited November 2020
    We do not use insecticides in our home or garden, for the sake of our own health and that of the environment .... but you can make your own choices, so I have Googled for you ...

    https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/pdfs/pesticides-for-home-gardeners.pdf 

    If your basil is growing indoors in less than ideal conditions I’m afraid it will always be soft, etiolated and susceptible to aphid attack. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,689
    You're fighting a losing battle.   Basil likes warmth, light and humidity and no seedling of any plant does well when over potted which yours are in that trough.

    I would stop wasting your time and sow some new seed next  spring - Feb if you have a warm greenhouse or March or April, after the equinox, when there is more light and it's easier to keep them warm enough and in good light.   Sow in seed trays or modules and prick out into bigger modules when yo see roots at the base and then into small pots and eventually bigger pots or a trough.

    Have a read of this - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/herbs/basil 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Well, excuse me for reading and believing what it says on the seed packet and in  gardening programmes I have seen, which suggest that Basil can be sown any time of year on a kitchen window sill.  It was still warm and sunny weather when I planted the seeds. 

    And frankly even after a few lockdown months there is more space between the plants in my trough than there would be between them if they were in individual pots.

    I was not looking for anything that would harm the environment - did anyone actually look at the Monty Don video I referred to at the start?

    I didn't say I didn't trust a chemical-base cure to work, I simply asked if someone could recommend a commercial product that did - like Monty had done. Not all commercial products are chemical based.  There's the seaweed one for a start, whatever it is. I don't trust manufacturer's claims whatever the product, but a personal recommendation from someone here who has tried it and had success would be something else.

    Though maybe I shouldn't trust recommendations either since the original one of a spray of water with a tiny bit of washing up liquid in it didn't work.  I'll swear the aphids are enjoying it - maybe Waitrose own brand is a particular favourite?

    I do have a heating mat and a growlight I can set up, albeit not in the kitchen, so I might give that a go.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,689
    edited November 2020
    It's not a question of space per plant but of general growing conditions and yours appear to have too little light and too much room for teeny root systems so they are growing soft and floppy instead of strong and sturdy.    

    Seaweed is a feed, providing potassium, magnesium and trace elements essential for healthy plant growth but it is not a pesticide.

    As for when to sow and how to grow I rather think you can trust the Royal Horticultural Society so have another look at that link I gave you.


    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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