Wednesday, July 26, 2023

How to Protect Your Ornamental Plants from Disease and Pests

It’s summer in America, which means that many ornamentals are in full, vibrant bloom. Ornamentals cover a wide range of plants. The only qualification for being an ornamental is that the plant is not grown for consumption. This means that everything from petunias to non-fruit trees are considered ornamental plants. When you have such a wide range of plants, it’s difficult to give general gardening advice about ornamentals. A cactus requires vastly different care than a begonia. Regardless of what type of ornamental you’re growing, all plants deal with pests and disease at some point. Keeping on top of pest issues, maintaining a healthy growing environment, and developing repeatable regimens go a long way towards keeping your garden colorful this summer.

The foundation of pest and disease control is that you need to stop it before it happens. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” However, it’s currently the middle of summer and past the time when you’re putting plants in the ground for an outdoor garden. While some species of plants naturally repel harmful insects and others are naturally hardy and disease resistant, there are steps you can take to make sure your fragile ornamental plants still flourish.

General Tips for Pest Control

Pests don’t just mean bugs. Rabbits, deer, and a variety of other mammals can mutilate a well-kept garden in a manner of minutes. Additionally, not all bugs are bad. Bees and butterflies are pollinators and are obvious examples of helpful insects, but other species of insects keep your garden safe by hunting harmful insects. Green lacewings are a great example of a beneficial insect that choosing to hunt and prey on aphids.

ARBICO’s Solution for General Insect Pests

If you’re seeing harmful insects in your garden, try BotaniGard® MAXX. This organic insecticide can be sprayed onto plants and pests when a pest population first becomes noticeable. It’s designed to be an all-purpose tool for pest management, taking care of weevils, whiteflies, aphids, and more.

ARBICO’s Solution for Mammal Control

A variety of simple, organic sprays are available that repel animals through smell and/or taste aversion. Check out the Bobbex-R™ Animal Repellent and the BONIDE® Hot Pepper Wax Animal Repellent RTU! Both sprays can be applied to plants without fear of chemical burns. As a bonus, you can apply the sprays to fencing around your garden to further ward off curious critters.

Marigolds are pollinator friendly ornamental plants that are naturally resistant to deer and rabbits.

Tips for Next Year

Try planting some pest-repellent plants in your garden. Zinnias and marigolds are beautiful ornamentals that are hated by deer and rabbits.

Keep your Ornamentals Healthy with Basic Disease Management

A pest infestation can be curtailed if you catch it early enough, but once a plant disease spreads through your garden, it’s largely up to chance if your plants survive. Keeping a healthy garden requires foresight and a good eye for high-risk areas. Here are 5 simple steps for keeping your ornamentals healthy this summer.

1. Mulch your garden! The best time is in spring, but mulch can be spread anytime, and you’ll still get positive benefits. Mulch retains soil moisture and can help prevent overwatering.

2. Water in the morning, and never overwater. If you see stagnant pools of water in your garden, you could be in trouble.

3. When using fertilizers, minimize the amount of nitrogen you’re applying to the plant. While nitrogen does help your plants grow, it can also cause fungal and bacterial infestations if applied in abundance.

4. Give your plants some space! If your plants are crowded together, humidity will increase in that localized area, which increases the possibility of infection.

5. Keep up on your pest control! If aphids are eating your leaves, the holes left behind are especially vulnerable to infection.

ARBICO’s Solution

Arber® Bio Protectant contains giant knotweed extract. When applied to your plants, it creates a barrier that inhibits fungal and bacterial growth.

Tips for Next Year

Make sure your garden is tilled and all previous weeds, discarded leaves, and plant debris are gone from the grow site. Diseases can remain dormant on dead plant life throughout the winter.

How to Eliminate Japanese Beetles From your Ornamentals

Japanese beetles aren’t only found in Japan. They’ve long since crossed the Pacific Ocean and have found America to their liking. They’re found across the USA and will settle anywhere with sufficient foliage, which may include your garden. These beetles aren’t picky. They’ll eat everything from leaves to stems to flowers, and they do travel in groups. If you find one beetle with the distinctive green and copper coloring, you will find many more. Two easy solutions exist to control a small beetle population: soap and water or manual removal. Spraying the beetles with soap and water will cause them to lose their grip and then fall to the soil. Japanese beetles do not bite or have any irritants, so putting on a pair of gardening gloves and picking them off your plants will get rid of a small population.

ARBICO’s Solution

Beneficial nematodes can eliminate Japanese beetle larva before they get the chance to mature. BotaniGard® MAXX, mentioned earlier in this article, also works to kill off adult Japanese beetles. Go to ARBICO’s dedicated webpage for a list of all products that can keep a Japanese beetle population under control.

Manage Potential Mildew Buildup

You’ll notice mildew by the white, powdery coating it leaves on the stem and leaves of plants. Managing mildew follows the same general principles outlined in the previous section on basic disease management. Below is a quick list that you can reference. Remember, preventative measures are key. If mildew establishes itself on one of your plants, prune away the infected area immediately, then properly dispose of the infected stems and leaves to avoid re-contamination burn the infected stems and leaves.
1. Make sure that your plants have some level of sun exposure every day. Shadier, enclosed locations are an ideal breeding ground for mildew.

2. Water early, and water to the roots. Splashing water onto leaves increases the risk of mildew. Installing a drip irrigation system can be a way to save water, save time, and prevent mildew from forming.

3. Keep plants separate. Too much crowding equals too much humidity, which can easily lead to mildew.

ARBICO’s Solution

SuffOil-X® can be applied over plants to control a variety of fungal diseases, such as Botrytis and mildew.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Environmentally Safe Solar Fly Trap Eliminates Flies

Flies are everywhere. They carry diseases (of plant, livestock, and sometimes human varieties), pester livestock, and they buzz constantly! Fly trapping is an important step to keeping an insect population under control. You’ve likely seen fly paper hanging from the ceiling, and when dealing with a large fly population, fly paper quickly gets filled and becomes ineffective. When you’re waging war against the flies, the best solution is to bring in the heavy artillery.

Like fly paper, the ARBICO Organics Solar Fly Trap is a passive method of fly control. Unlike fly paper, which traps flies by keeping them stuck to the paper, a solar fly trap uses sunlight to fry the flies once they enter the trap.

We’ll provide a step-by-step breakdown of how a solar fly trap works, but sometimes it’s easiest to see it in action. Watch this minute long video to see how the ARBICO Organics Solar Fly Trap operates.

How does a solar fly trap work?

1. The fly trap is a metal cylinder with an inverted funnel on the bottom. This funnel allows flies to enter the trap but prevents them from leaving.

2. Prepare the fly bait. If you’re purchasing the ARBICO Organics Solar Fly Trap, the trap comes with powdered bait. Simply mix the bait with water (a gallon jug or bucket works nicely for this) then loosely cover and wait seven days for the bait to ferment. Looking to make your own bait? See the next section for a simple recipe.

3. Once the bait has fermented, pour it into the suspended bait bowl at the bottom of the trap.

4. Flies are lured into the trap by the bait but move past it when trying to reach it. At this point, the flies are trapped in the metal cylinder and will be fried by the sun.

5. The solar fly trap is also reusable, so you can use it repeatedly. You can easily remove the lid, empty the trap, clean it with a hose and it’s ready to go.

Making your own fly bait

1. Fill a gallon jug halfway full of warm water.

2. Add one cup of baking yeast to the water.

3. Add a pinch of sugar to the mixture to make it even more appealing to flies.

4. Loosely cover the gallon jug to prevent gas build up. Store in a well-ventilated area.

5. After one week passes, your bait should be good to go!

What do I do with all these dead flies?

Even if your greenhouse or garden doesn’t have the insect problems that a livestock barn does, it can still be worth it to invest in a solar fly trap. After a day or two, you’ll see a shocking number of dead flies in your trap. A savvy gardener will take these dead flies (they’ll slide right out of the trap when it is tipped) and use them as fertilizer for a garden. While there isn’t any data to reveal the exact nutrient value of flies, many gardeners utilize dead flies as fertilizer. Just dig around the roots of your plants until you’ve created a trench. Spread a thin layer of dead flies, then bury the dead flies under the topsoil. If you’d like to save a little time and effort, you can just add the dead flies to your compost pile, providing that the insects are free of mold or other contaminates. The flies will be broken down by microorganisms in the soil and will organically replenish nitrogen levels. Since flies are so common, every time you set out your solar fly trap, you get a free batch of fertilizer!

The trap is made in the USA from lightweight, rust-free, heavy-duty aluminum. It is lightweight and may need to be mounted to a board or secured to the ground with rocks or blocks to prevent it from blowing away during a strong wind. Mounting the trap is easy, as the legs of the trap come with pre-made holes for mounting. This also helps if you are a horse owner who has a curious horse that may try to knock the trap over!

Fly trapping is only one part of a proper pest control plan. Stopping flies before they mature is another crucial step to keeping the insect population under control. For more information on how to target fly pupae, click here or go directly to to see ARBICO’s full lineup of pest control products.

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