Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's time to nip it in the budworm.

Keeping your beautiful geraniums healthy and blooming all summer requires more than water and fertilizer. You have to be on the lookout for bugs, especially this little guy. He can cause lots of problems for your hanging baskets and patio pots.  
The Tobacco Budworm starts to show up in your garden around this time of year.  
Signs that your plants have been attacked by budworm include tiny holes in the flower buds and small dark specks on the leaves and stems. 
The little dark specks are really the worm’s waste. The budworm caterpillars usually go after the geranium flower buds. The damaged buds won’t open and you notice your geranium has stopped blooming.
Sometimes there is a ragged look to the plant. If you can find them, pick them off by hand. Budworms blend in with the plant colors very well, so you have to look closely to find them. They like to hangout along the flower stems so follow the stem back from the damaged bud and often you’ll see them.  You can pick them off by hand and dispose of them. You can prune off any damaged flower buds you might find. You can spray the plant using a biological product called Bacillus Thuringiensis or simply BT.
You can buy BT in a concentrated form called Thuricide. You mix Thuricide according to directions and spray your plants thoroughly. It’s best to use all of the insecticide, because BT that been mixed with water does not store well.
If you don’t care to mix the concentrate, buy the ready-to-use product from Monterey. 
Dipel is a powder form of BT.  You can dust your plants to get rid of budworms.
Systemic insecticides such as this one from Hi-Yield can be applied directly to the soil and then watered in. Systemics  will help protect your plants for up to 8 weeks against chewing insects. Doing these things now, along with regular fertilizing and watering will help keep your geraniums blooming all season.  


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