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Recommendations for coping with large numbers of aphids

A couple of years ago I had my (very) small front garden professionally re-designed and replanted. I now have a beautiful (if small) chamomile lawn which is bordered on two sides. The side border contains shrubs such as flowering blackcurrant, spirea and a small lilac which were left in-situ when the garden was redesigned. There is a small pond in the corner between the side and front borders, with just a dwarf lily in it. 


The front border was replanted with perennial plants such as geranium, lupins and a few others which I'm afraid I can't remember. (Sorry. I'm not much of a gardener I'm afraid image )

However, in the 3 summers since the work was done the plants seem to have become more and more susceptible to aphids. There is a council owned tree, swarming with aphids, directly overhanging this part of the garden, and though I never noticed the problem before the replanting, it positively drips honeydew onto my plants, which I understands draws the aphids to them. 

I have tried hosing them off, and spraying the plants with soapy water, but even though this gives a temporary respite, the plants underneath are grey and sickly.

I have made up my mind to replant this year, but don't know what plants might be able to resist such a heavy infestation of aphids,and what treatments I should use to help them stay healthy. I would rather not use chemical sprays if possible, and I don't want to lose the aphid eaters from my garden (dozens of ladybirds (probably all harlequin though), so I am quite happy for there to be some aphids, as long as I can control them.   

I am open to any ideas that are within the scope of a very non-green-fingered gardener. 

Thank you. 



  • I would be very interested to hear replies on this as I have a similar problem. I have replanted a bed along my driveway which is overhung by next door's large sycamore trees. The shrubs and plants I have put in have been similarly covered with honeydew (which I always understood to be produced by the aphids) and the resulting sooty mould.  I did discover loads of ladybirds (also harlequin i think!) and their pupating larvae in the autumn, so they are obviously having a feast and will do some good. But if there are any recommendations of plants that are able to withstand the situation, I would be interested to hear!

    Sorry to not be any help Sharon, but you are at least, not alone! 

  • I have been using SB Invigirator spray with good results. It's based on plant oils, so is completely safe for pollinators, pets and children.

    It also acts as a foliar feed.

    you do need to use it after every rainfall though. It's brilliant stuff and makes the aphids (and other pests) sticky, as well as interfering with their reproductive cycle, apparently.

    however, though it will undoubtedly help your plants, I would ask the council if they can take some responsibility for their tree and treat that too.

    tip for buying SB - best to buy it undiluted and make it up yourself. Much cheaper and a little goes a long way.

  • Ooh Jess that sounds like great stuff. Will have a google. Thanks!

  • Thanks Jess, that sounds worth a try. I'll give the council a ring too, but knowing our council, I'm not hopeful.   Thanks for your help. image

  • Biggest problem for me in the greenhouse has been aphids, they like chilli plants, and I've found this very helpful:

    'Natural predators, such as birds, earwigs, ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies, ground beetles, spiders and parasitic wasps are a gardener's best allies.'

    I like the idea of growing more plants to naturally attract aphid predators. I always grow sunflowers, and they feed ladybirds as well as birds and squirrels.

    And maybe look at buying some ladybirds and/or ladybird larvae to make a difference more quickly.


  • LucyLLucyL Posts: 163

    I have a Sambucus Nigra 'Black Beauty' in my garden, tho there is no other trees hanging over it this tree gets covered in aphids, I had no idea what to do with it last year so left it, I have been informed by a local gardener to order Ladybirds, and have a Ladybird house underneith it, So for this year when ladybirds are able to be bought online i will be purchasing a bag of them.

    The gardener said that he did this with his shrubs and trees a couple years ago and now got ladybirds breeding in his garden, he said when an infestation happens within a couple days its under control and he doesn't do a thing, the ladybirds do all the work.

    I have also for this year planted alot of flowers that will attract more insects inc lacewings and hoverflies etc which will also take care of the aphids, I am also having a rock pile and a wood rotting pile for the ground beetles and spiders, I am really interested to see the difference this year in my garden and the aphid outbreaks and me (hopefully) having less work to do, as i will hopefully have my own natural army at the ready!

  • Tropical SamTropical Sam Posts: 1,488

    I would remove the overhanging branches as long as you only remove the bits on your land. That will remove part of the problem.

    A strong hose will remove green and white fly and they do not reattach when they get washed off the stems/leaves.

    I use Provado for my Lupins as the greenfly can literally coat the stems and my wife hates them as it is.

  • You can buy SB from many suppliers. Due to its good results, its popularity is spreading. I shop around on Amazaon and gardening sites for the best deals, as I get through a lot. That said, I buy a huge bottle and dilute it down (it's about 10ml of SB to 1 litre of water) so it does go a long way. As long as you're patient and thorough - and always respray after it rains, you'll see a marked difference in very little time. My plants also look healthier and stronger  - which is a bonus, as the stronger they are, the less they are susceptible to attack from other pests. 

    I find that the aphids on my roses are 100% controllable and it also controls red spider mite and thrips, to some extent, but if I miss a week of spraying, it can slide backwards.

    Blairs is right - legally, you are allowed to remove any part of a plant that overhangs your garden - might be worth considering with this tree, also to open it up and give the plants under it more light.

    Lucy - I found that ladybirds are really good, but sadly there weren't enough aphids in my little garden to feast on (this was before I'd used SB) so they hung around a bit and flew off. That was an expensive trial for me image

    Could be a really good idea to set up ladybirds in the aphid tree though, possibly sticking a house for them under the tree itself....then using SB on your plants Sharon? That way, the ladybirds are incentivised into staying, as they have loads to eat on the tree, which is hard to spray as well and your plants underneath get a good foliar feed and chance with the SB.

  • Thank you all.

    I will try the SB Invigorator and Pravado, as it seems to be the lupins that are particularly badly affected. I got some ladybird larvae a couple of years ago, which I didn't think were effective - I thought they had all flown away, but this last year we had loads of them, but they either came after the aphids were established or there weren't enough of them to keep them under control. I hosed the aphids off initially, but the plants looked weak and half dead and I was worried I had damaged them so after that I used soapy water, but the lupins didn't do at all well last year. 

    I'll give the lupins another chance this year I think. Hopefully the ladybirds will be there from the start this year, and with SB and Provado I may be able to control the aphids. 

    Again, many thanks to everyone.





  • Hi Sharon, just to be sure- your lupine are in the flower bed under the tree, right? Provado is a very strong product which is generally watered into the soil, not sprayed into leaves as such. It works by being absorbed into the plant's own sap system, so when sap suckers eat the plant, they die. I do recall reading on the back of my Provado bottle that it's for use in pots, rather than open soil. This is partly because in open soil, the Provado water is washed away and so won't be half as effective as in a container and also because manufacturers don't know how potentially harmful to other life this product is. It is lethal to aquatic life for example and also to frogs. The EU has banned it (UK didn't go ahead with ban though) as it has been shown to affect pollinating insects when they feed from nectar coming from Provado-treated crops.

    This isn't to say that I disagree with using it at all, but if be very cautious and selective. I only use it on pots, watering only those plants that don't flower and in soil where I don't plan to grow any edibles, for example.

    If you're planning to water it into your open soil bed, it won't be effective, in other words.

    SB will and is very safe indeed.

    I would try the ladybirds again to see if, like another person on here mentioned, you have better results this year, as well as cutting back overhanging bits of that tree.

    The biggest problem with aphids, I have found, is that they are notorious at becoming resistant to spray insecticides anyway. So you could spray the entire tree, only to find they happened to me on my roses. Whereas SB wiped them put!
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