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Avoiding Aphids – My 4 Point Plan

Over the last few years of growing chillies by far the most common pest my plants have faced have been aphids. Over the last few years I’ve posted about how to treat an aphid infestation so this year i thought it was about time i was a bit more proactive and attempted to take preventative measure rather than  reactive ones!

Aphid Infestationimage credit

Having done a bit of research I’ve put together a little plan to help avoid having issues with aphids this year.

1. Keep growing area open

In the past I’ve grown most of my plants indoors either in the house or in a conservatory. I found that once i got an aphid infestation in such an environment it was very hard to get rid of. The main reason being that the aphids natural predators (bugs such as lady birds and hover flies) don’t have access to the plants when inside.

Obviously if the weather allows I’ll aim to keep as many plants as possible outside in the fresh air. That said as our Great British summer offers us spells of high winds and or colder temperatures I’ll inevitably have to move a portion of the plants indoors.

To combat the indoor infestations I’ll try and leave as many of the windows open in the chilli house in order to allow the predates equal access to the plants as the aphids. Luckily the conservatory I grow most of my plants in has many windows that can open fully.

2. Plant some marigolds

French marigolds are well known for their ability to help control aphids. Firstly they attract natural predators such as hover flies which will help avoid any infestations setting in. Secondly they are said to give off a chemical that acts as a natural repellent for the aphids.

These brightly colored flowers are usually readily available as plugs or small plants in most garden centers however to keep costs down and get as many marigolds as possible I’ve decided to grow my own from seed this year.

French Marigoldimage by brangal

Marigolds are fairly straight forward to grow – just sow the seeds in fine moist compost and keep them at about 18 degrees until they germinate. Once they reach 5-10 cm tall prick them out and pot into individual pots, window boxes or borders. As will most plants it is well worth taking a couple of weeks to harden the plants off before moving them outside or into a cold greenhouse.

3. Lady Bird Nests

Another easy method to attract ladybirds (which love to feast on aphids) is to put up some ladybird nest boxes in the garden. The way i see it the more lady birds i can attract, the less chance of my having any issues with aphids.

lady bird searching for aphids

The proof of the pudding was last summer when i spent about 20 minutes watching the ladybird above demolish an infestation of  aphids on one of my plants.

4. Sacrificial Planting

Another method I’m considering is using some sacrificial planting. This involves planting some plants nearby that aphids love, the idea being they’ll head there as opposed to onto my chillies. This seems a bit counter intuitive as there is always the risk they’ll head over to my chilli plants as they breed and infest the sacrificial plants.

9 comments… add one
  • Alex July 25, 2011, 4:00 pm

    Another tip here for once you DO have the aphids (and whitefly too)

    1L of water, 1tsp of washing up liquid and 1 tsp of vegetable oil. Stick it in a sprayer and shake it up then mist the plants (and the bugs) with it.

    It seems to work a treat. I’ve just beaten off a massive whitefly infection with this over the last few days.

    • The Chilli King August 1, 2011, 4:05 pm

      Alex – Thanks for the tip. I have also had great success with diluted washing up liquid misted onto the plants. Thankfully this year there seems to be loads of hover flies in the garden so i’ve not had any aphid infestations yet. I think this must be partly due to the large number of marigolds i planted all over the garden (and in pots in the greenhouse) this year.

  • jody June 20, 2011, 1:38 pm

    Another one for your plan – I have also been told that crush a garlic clove in a bit of warm water in a spray gun, leave to 6 hours. Then spray on the plants and it will kill the aphids. I have tried it on some of my chilli plants and it seem to work. Also a nice organic way of dealing with them. Side effect is that it stinks of garlic for a few days.

    • The Chilli King June 21, 2011, 9:55 am

      Jody – That sounds great, i’ll definitely have to give the garlic a go!

  • Lenny June 14, 2011, 4:30 pm

    After a really good run on the south facing window sill with an unusually sunny March and April in London, my babies were going great guns but alas I’ve seen little growth over th past three weeks, and upon further inspection…. the dreaded aphids have set up camp.

    I’ve had a crop of basil in the middle of my plants and can confirm the litttle bstards have not even touched it, preffering the sweet sweet new growth areas on my chilli.

    I’m taking action tonight: Putting the plant outside – figure hey are big enough to survive the odd bit of wind and rain now. Also might get me one of these towers, and plant the marigolds next to them in a pot. Three pronged attack.

    Will report the results in due course.

  • Steve May 20, 2011, 6:37 am

    My hot chocolate habanero started really well and continues to do so. The first pods came through a couple of weeks ago and got to the size of a pea. They now have slowed down although the plant is full. Is this normal or should I be doing something to help them along?

  • Harry May 2, 2011, 4:52 pm

    Chilli King,

    Thanks for sharing your tips! I’m fairly new to growing vegetables however I was planning on having companion planting for my chillies (and tomatoes), both Marigolds to attract beneficial insects, and also Basil to divert the aphids to it. I am wondering on the effect of the sacrificial plants, I suspect and hope that their “range” should be high enough to divert the aphids from the chillies, and tomatos to it, but to so big to attract the aphids from the neighbors allotment! Well it be interesting to hear if you have more thoughts to share on this ..

    You also mention “lady bird” nest boxes, that sounds wonderful! But what is it? Can you build it/buy one that is specifically suitable for “lady birds”? I would very much like to provide some housing for our little friends 🙂

    • The Chilli King May 3, 2011, 9:07 am

      Harry – Here is a link to the lady bird boxes i installed a couple of years ago. You couls probably make your own too with some cut lengths of bamboo and some scraps of mdf or similar. I’m not too sure on the range of attraction plants like basil…i might try and experiment this summer!

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