culture and maintenance |
controlling insects and diseases | special
uses | special uses cont.
| environments ]
FLOWER BED: ANNUALS
Ch. 14, pp. 12 - 14
Controlling insects and
Insect Pests. Do not apply an insecticide unless it is
necessary to prevent damage to flowers or shrubs. Most insect
pests in the garden will not cause appreciable damage if their
predators and parasites are protected by avoiding unnecessary
applications of insecticides. However, if there is a pest that
usually causes serious damage unless an insecticide is used, apply
the insecticide as soon as the infestation appears and begins to
Watch for such insect pests as spider mites, aphids,
June beetles and other beetles, lacebugs, and thrips; these are
some of the insects most likely to need prompt treatment with
insecticides. Do not treat for soil insects unless you find
numbers of cutworms, white grubs, or wireworms when preparing the
soil for planting.
When using a pesticide, be certain that the pest and
the flower or shrub are indicated on the label. Read and follow
all directions for use, including precautions, shown on the label.
If pesticides are handled, applied, or disposed of improperly,
they may be injurious to human beings, animals, and fish as well
as to plants, flowers, and beneficial insects. Use pesticides only
when needed, and handle them with care.
Diseases. Since annuals only grow in the garden
for one season, diseases are not as serious a problem as they are
for perennials. Select varieties of plants that are resistant to
disease, follow recommended practices for planting and maintaining
annuals, and you will avoid most disease problems. However, there
are times when weather conditions are highly favorable for
diseases. If this happens, determine what disease is affecting the
plants, then apply the appropriate pesticide according to label
Damping-off causes seeds to rot and seedlings to
collapse and die. The disease is carried in soil and may be
present on planting containers and tools. Soil moisture and
temperature necessary for germination of seeds are also ideal for
development of damping-off. Once the disease appears in a seed
flat, it may travel quickly through the flat and kill all
seedlings planted there. This can be prevented. Before planting,
treat the seed with a fungicide, sterilize the soil, and use
sterile containers. Treat the seed by tearing off the corner of
the seed packet, and through the hole in the packet, insert about
as much fungicide dust as you can pick up on the tip of the small
blade of a penknife. Close the hole by folding over the corner of
the packet, then shake the seed thoroughly to coat it with the
Unless you use artificial soilless mixes, sterilize the
soil in an oven. Fill a metal tray with moist, but not wet, soil.
Hold it at 180º F for 30 minutes. Do not overheat. This will
produce an unpleasant smell.
To avoid introducing the damping-off organism on
containers, use fiber seed flats or peat pots. These containers
are sterile, inexpensive, and easily obtained from garden shops.
Fiber flats are light and strong. They cost so little that they
can be thrown away after one use. Peat pots can be set out in the
garden along with the plants they contain; roots of the plants
grow through the walls of the pots. Plants grown in peat pots
suffer no setback when they are transplanted to the garden.
Larkspur and poppy, which ordinarily do not tolerate
transplanting, can be grown in peat pots satisfactorily. If wooden
boxes or clay flower pots are used for soil containers, clean them
well. Soak clay pots in water and scrub them to remove all the
white fertilizer crust from the outside. Sterilize clay pots by
swabbing them with a solution of 1 part chlorine bleach to nine
parts water. Allow containers to dry thoroughly before filling
them with soil. If, despite precautions, damping-off appears in
seedlings, discard the containers and soil and start again.