I may pen this column, but I don’t work in the Evansville Living offices. As a designer with Landscapes by Dallas Foster, my workspaces are my clients’ yards and gardens except for a crisis call to this magazine’s office, which teems with vibrant plants — besides a dying hibiscus tree. The two writers near it, who are brilliant at editing my columns, weren’t as adept at figuring out why the plant looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. They watered it regularly and kept the plant near the window.
The problem was aphids. These green bugs — nearly invisible to the naked eye — invaded the plant. The solution was simple: Sprays, insecticidal soaps, or horticultural oils, available at local garden centers, treat common plant pests.
While the problem and solution are obvious for home gardens and yards, I find many clients often forget insects can find their way into your home. With winter approaching, you soon will bring potted plants inside, and it is possible that a few pests might try to migrate in as well. Don’t fear the pest problem. Before carrying the plants inside, inspect each plant thoroughly. If you do see insects, simply wipe them away with a rag and then spray with an insecticidal soap.
Still, some pests are tough to see. Here are common bugs to beware of:
• Whiteflies look like miniature white moths, and they fly around the plant when it is shaken
• White and fuzzy mealybugs live on the undersides of leaves or between the stem and leaf.
• Black specks are spider mites that create spider-like webbing between stems and leaves.
• Scales — brown, hard-shelled insects — attach to the bottom of leaves and on the stems.
Brian Wildeman, a graduate of Purdue University’s landscape horticulture and design program, is a designer with Landscapes by Dallas Foster. In October, he was named Keep Evansville Beautiful’s community volunteer of the year.