Aphids are one of the most common pests in the home garden. They suck the sap out of plant leaves and can drain them of valuable nutrients in the process. They can also carry diseases and spread them between plants. If left to run amuck, aphids can do a lot of damage to a vegetable garden. Luckily, there are lots of organic methods to deal with these pesky little buggers. Here’s how to get rid of aphids naturally.
KEEP PLANTS HEALTHY
The most effective way to keep aphids out of your garden is to grow strong, healthy plants. Healthy plants are difficult for pests like aphids to consume and digest. This means planting in rich soil, fertilizing when needed and watering smart. You also want to keep a clean, tidy garden. This will deter other pests and keep your garden growing strong. Mulch helps keep down weeds, which can also weaken your plants.
Blast aphids off with a hose. This is the easiest way to rid your plants, be it a few pesky bugs or a larger infestation. Repeat as needed every day or two until they are gone. It’s best to water blast aphids in the morning, this way the plants can dry out quickly during the hot part of the day and avoid the risk of mold.
Hummingbirds feed on aphids. Try to attract them to your garden with a hummingbird feeder. Ladybugs and lacewings are also good natural predators to aphids that will not cause problems for your vegetables. (Buy live ladybugs here.)
Small infestations can often be treated by using your hand or a cloth to pick or wipe aphids off the plants. Keep an eye on them and repeat as needed.
Insecticidal soap is often considered one of the most effective organic ways to deal with aphids. Spray your plants thoroughly and be sure to get the underside of the leaves, as that is where they like to congregate. Spray the aphids directly as much as possible. After the soap has dried for a couple of hours, rinse if off with water. Be sure to rinse with enough hot sun left in the day to dry the plants out or you may increase the risk of mold.
Making a good insecticidal soap spray is as easy as mixing some liquid dish soap (avoid detergent) with water. Try 2 tablespoons of soap to about 1 quart of water. Use any spray bottle that has been cleansed of any chemicals it may have contained to apply the spray to your plants.
OTHER NATURAL SPRAYS
Other natural sprays that can help with aphids are tomato leaf spray, garlic spray and pepper spray. Simply mix any of these items with water and give the plants a good soaking, trying to target the aphids directly. The more potent the mixture, the more effective the spray is likely to be. Any other fragrant herbs can be mixed with water to create a spray that will deter aphids and other garden pests as well.
Isolate the problem and prune off any areas of the plants that are infested with aphids. This may mean removing a whole plant from the garden, but better one plant than the entire crop.
Smart, thoughtful companion planting is one of the best ways to deter pests like aphids. Aphids hate mint, garlic, onions, and chives. If you plant these around plants that aphids love (like tomatoes, lettuce, fruit trees, and potatoes) aphids will be less likely to infest.
There is some belief that ants bring aphids into the garden in order to harvest the honey dew they excrete. This theory has been disputed and while limiting ants in the garden may lessen the risk of aphids, it is likely that that energy can be better served elsewhere. Ants also bring benefits to the garden and it’s more likely that aphids attract ants, not that ants bring aphids to the garden.
Do you have tips on how to get rid of aphids naturally? Let us know in the comments section below.