OK, the summer season is coming to its slow end in Egypt (it will linger on for some months, but at lower intensities), and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my experience with garden pests.
Before I go into the details of my pest issues, it would be a good idea to give you a quick idea about the plants in my garden as pests are very plant dependent. I have a shrub border that contains mainly hibiscus-rosa sinensis, night blooming jasmine and a couple of ficus bejamina variegata and jatropha trees.
I underplant those with Mexican Petunia, daracena purple dragon, and some shade loving crotons. I know, the Mexican petunia may not have been the best choice for a shade planting, but it goes into bloom every time I prune the shrubs and holds on to life at other times, so I let it be.
In the shadiest parts of the garden, I grow cordyline palms and schefflera. I have three trees in the lawn, namely, Tahiti lime, guava and olive. I also have two potted fruit trees, a low chill variety of peach (Florida Prince) and a Fig tree. Other than that, I just have a assorted planting of kitchen herbs that we use in our daily cooking (this changes according to season, but includes rosemary, thyme, parsley, arugula, mint, and basil).
Winter is usually quiet time in my garden, the guava drops most of its leaves, the lime tree sheds some, and the fig and peach trees go completely dormant. The Jatropha drops some of it’s leaves, but holds onto some. All the other plants hold on to their foliage but don’t grow or do so at a very sedate rate.
Accordingly, this is only season in my garden that I don’t see pest activity in. Of course, I know that they are somewhere lying dormant, but I don’t see any damage during this season. As soon as the weather warms up a bit, spring ushers in the first pests of the season, mainly aphids and whitefly.
Thankfully, this is also the time that most of my herbs bolt, providing lots of flowers to attract beneficials like ladybugs and green lacewings. This is my favorite time of the year, I let the beneficials and the pests fight it out, while I watch the first flowers of the seasons open. Spider mites also start becoming active now. Most of these pests attach rose family plants, like my peach (they also killed a hybrid tea rose bush that I used to grow a while back).
Then comes summer, as the heat rises, the mealybugs come out to play. As you have probably seen in my list of plants, my garden contains lots of mealybug favorites. The usually start on the night blooming jasmine and then spread to the hibiscus. They are never a problem on the other plants, although I’ve seen some on my jatropha and lime trees.
As the summer draws to an end and the weather becomes moderate again, the mealybugs recede and out come the aphids and whiteflies. Unfortunately, this time around, the beneficials are not as plentiful as in spring. A forceful jet of water does seem to keep them in bay though.
Most plants in my garden are relatively pest tolerant, but the hibiscus and night blooming jasmine take severe hits each year from the mealybugs. And that, ladies and gents, concludes the report on the pests in my garden. Can’t wait for winter to start so that I can stop worrying about them for a bit.