Aphids on geraniums are what cause problems like leaf curling and stunted growth of your flowers. The colorful geranium flowers, high nitrogen levels, and weak plants attract these tiny insects.
Some ways to get rid of aphids on geraniums are using pesticides, water, and neem oil. Read on this article, and you will know the exact reasons and the ways that you can fix them.
- Why Do Aphids Attack Geranium Plants?
- How To Get Rid of Aphids on Geraniums
Why Do Aphids Attack Geranium Plants?
Aphids attack geraniums because of their attractive flowers and the plants’ sweet sap. The insects feed on the sap and high nitrogen levels and attack weak plants. In addition, they also attack due to the presence of weeds, lack of beneficial insects, presence of ants, and due to warmer climates.
– New Leaves
Besides the attractive, beautiful scented flowers, aphids are also attracted to geranium leaves. New leaves are soft, and easy for insects to suck the plant sap as the nutrients are well present and the leaves are easy to be pierced on. Aphids like geranium plant sap because of its sugars, and as the leaves start drying, the insects could migrate to the stem, as they get well nurtured.
As the insects suck geranium plant sap, they affect it in many ways. For example, sap removal causes stunted growth and reduces plant reproduction, leading to low yields. It also reduces photosynthesis which makes the energy used for cell growth, and the plant will have a hard time recovering as the new leaves are damaged.
Besides geranium new leaves, aphids attack new shoots with soft stems and leaf tissues. Attacking the stems, leaves, and roots of the plants causes stunted growth and could weaken and kill it.
– Nitrogen Levels
High nitrogen levels are essential for the growth of geraniums and the production of flowers, but they have a negative effect, like inviting unwanted insects. Aphids like areas with high nitrogen levels because they provide a conducive environment for reproduction and habitats.
Besides, high nitrogen levels also ensure continuous growth of the plant. The nutrient supports the production of new leaves, which is food for the aphids, supporting their stay and reproduction.
These nitrogen levels could increase due to overfertilizing, and although it is essential to the plant, it also sends a quick invitation to geranium pests. Moreover, this will also be a possibility since the plant is rich in nitrogen, and they need this nutrient so that it will help them thrive and grow more, causing to grow the infestation around the geranium.
– Struggling Unhealthy Plants
If you just noticed aphids on your geraniums, your plants could be weak and struggling. Weak plants are attractive to insects because they have a low immune system to defend on themselves from attacks.
The plants also have soft tissues that are easy to feed on, providing easy-to-get food to the bugs. In such a case, when the plant has weakened leaves, it will start to become dull and lose leaves, and this debris is what they will target in the long run.
Plant stress is caused by failing to provide conducive growing conditions like water, soil, and sunlight. The right soil mix is essential because it contains minerals and nutrients used by the plant to grow.
Water is also essential because it makes absorbing nutrients and minerals from the soil possible, but too much could cause root problems like root rot. Hence, when you have overwatered it, and the plant is in stress, it starts changing its features as the foliage would be more dense, and in this way, they will feed on these leaves.
Also, geranium budworms could transfer infections to the plants, weakening them further. While aphid attacks don’t lead to severe problems, a heavy infestation could weaken the plant. And when the insects introduce common geranium infections to your plants, they could kill the flowers.
– Presence of Weeds and Debris
Aphids hide under big leaves, mainly from the weeds growing beside your geraniums. Farmers will least suspect the presence of insects in the weeds because they are unwanted plants. As aphids feed on big weed leaves, they could slowly migrate to your geranium garden because of the strongly scented and attractive flowers.
In this matter, you will also see how the Debris is becoming home to aphids because they provide a conducive and undistracted environment for hiding. These areas also have perfect temperatures for aphid reproduction, and they slowly migrate to the geraniums.
Besides being home to aphids, weeds could also contribute to your plant stress. They compete with geraniums for water and minerals, and their immunity is compromised when the flowers don’t have enough nutrients.
– Lack of Beneficial Insects
As bad as some insects like aphids can be, others benefit the plants. Natural predators like ladybugs and wasps feed on the destructive aphids, reducing their population and slowing down the damage. The insects also destroy aphid eggs, controlling their population, and without fearing or hiding, they will stay in the leaves and grow an infestation.
The lack of ladybugs in your geranium garden gives aphids ample time to reproduce and destroy your flowers. You can introduce the insects to your indoor and outdoor geraniums by buying them or growing plants that ladybugs like.
– Presence of Ants
As aphids feed on geranium and other plants’ sweet sap, they produce honeydew with a sweet taste. The honeydew is a favorite to ants, which follow aphids to feed on their waste product. At the same time, you must also know that because ants are aware of the hate relationship aphids have with ladybugs, they follow them around to offer protection.
Besides, geranium sweet sap also attracts ants. When unproblematic ants infest geraniums to feed on the fluid, the aphids could tag along to enjoy the sap. Since ants offer aphids protection from ladybugs, this leads to uncontrolled population growth, causing worse problems, and both will grow at the same time, creating a harmonious thrive.
– Warm Climate
Geraniums thrive in warm climates, and so do aphids; you must keep in mind that these warm temperatures provide a conducive environment for aphid habitat and reproduction. When looking for the perfect place to grow geraniums, farmers could get gardens near aphid habitats, increasing the chances of an infestation.
Nitrogen levels, ants, unhealthy plants, and a lack of beneficial insects contribute to aphid infestation, but there are many ways to eliminate them. Your choice depends on the density of the infestation, cost, and preference.
How To Get Rid of Aphids on Geraniums
To get rid of aphids on geraniums, you can go ahead and pick them with your hands, wash them off with some water, use insecticidal soap, and remove all the weeds away. You shouldn’t fertilize it excessively, aim to use neem oil, give them proper care and use chemical methods.
Natural, biological, or chemical methods can eliminate aphids from your geranium garden. The natural methods include handpicking and killing the insects or spraying them with water. You can also prune aphid-infected geranium branches to stop the infestation.
The biological methods use natural predators to feed on aphids. These kill destructive insects without the use of chemicals. And if the infestation is heavy, consider chemical control methods like pesticides and mild ones like insecticidal soap.
– Pick the Insects with Your Hands
The aphid population is low during the onset of the infestation, and you can stop them from spreading by handpicking them. Check geranium leaves and flowers for pests and wipe them off the tree with a paper towel or your hands, so note that once you pick the insects, crush them using your fingers or between the paper towel and dispose of them.
Crushing aphids with fingers is time-consuming and ideal for low insect populations, and this can also be accomplished in a fast pace. Also, this is not a suitable aphid-control method if you have a big geranium garden or the insect population is increasing quickly.
Once you kill the insects, drop them in the bin and burn them. You should also sweep any tiny dead bodies under the flowers and dispose of them to avoid a re-infestation, and this way you will keep away from any risk of repeating the act again.
– Wash Aphids off with Water
Consider using water if the aphid infestation is higher and hard to remove by hand. Put water in a hose pipe and spray it on the flowers in a high-pressure setting. Since the water droplets come out in a strong force, they push the insects off the plants.
Aim at the upper and under side of the leaves when using water to remove geranium sawflies. You should also wash the flowers to remove any aphids hiding in them and clean the honeydew.
Water is a safe insect control method, but it has its downsides; for instance, if you would use too much force from the hose pipe can break the flower branches and loosen or fall the flowers. The water also leaves some naughty aphids alive, which could lead to an infestation. Also, spraying a lot of water on the plants could cause overwatering, hence root rot which weakens the plants.
– Use Insecticidal Soap
Insecticidal soap is a homemade bug spray for geraniums made by mixing dish soap with water. The soap controls the aphid population by killing the insects through suffocation and dehydration.
When it covers the insect skin, it absorbs moisture from the cells, causing dehydration, so be detailed about the ways that you would be shooting them at that instant. The soap also covers aphids’ outer coats, blocking their breathing pores and causing suffocation.
Although soap is a mild chemical insect control, it has side effects like scorching plant leaves. This could leave brown marks on the leaves or tiny open wounds, which make a way to enter bacteria. You can avoid the scorching by washing the leaves with clean water after spraying the soap.
– Remove Weeds From the Garden
Weeds could be the reason you are experiencing aphid infestation in your garden. Some are aphid-attractive because their big leaves provide a perfect aphid habitat. Other weeds also have a sweet sap that aphids are attracted to, and this way they would come along to your plant.
As the destructive insects feed on the sap in the weeds, they could easily start migrating to your geraniums. These insects are tiny and hardly noticeable, and they also reproduce fast. A considerable aphid infestation could weaken plants and cause stunted growth when not taken care of.
Removing weeds from the geranium garden ensures aphids don’t have places to hide in, you can also use some diluted vinegar on them. Since the weeds also provide plant sap, removing them stops the sap supply, reducing the chances of aphid presence in the garden.
– Don’t Overfertilize
Another reason for aphid infestation in geranium gardens is high nitrogen fertilization. The fertilizer is essential for flower growth and makes them more significant, but it also invites aphids.
Instead of stopping completely fertilizing the plants, you can reduce the quantities to discourage aphids from entering the area. At the same time, you may also try to fertilize them with the right balance of the key nutrients that thee plant needs, and make sure to do so during the right season.
– Use Neem Oil
Neem oil is an effective pest control method with few adverse effects on the plant. Once you spray the oil on the aphids, it covers their bodies, making breathing difficult, and the insects could die from suffocation. The oil also stops aphids from feeding on the flowers and leaves by acting as a barrier.
Mix the oil with water and spray it on geranium flowers and leaves. Ensure you also spray the stems and roots to kill any aphids present, and you can go ahead and repeat it when necessary.
– Take Care of The Plants
Weak and struggling geraniums are vulnerable to insect and disease attacks. A lack of plant growth conditions like water, good soil, and enough sunlight causes the weakness.
To protect your flowers from aphid attacks, ensure they are healthy by providing them with proper growing needs. Water them before the soil dries, and expose them to enough sunlight, so that you wouldn’t see them weakening.
– Use Chemical Methods
If the aphid attack on geraniums is high, you can use potent pesticides to kill the insects. These chemicals are harmful to aphids but non-toxic to humans and good insects. However, they cause environmental pollution.
Since pesticides are a mixture of strong chemicals, some irritate the skin, and others cause allergies. Hire a professional to spray the chemicals on your plants. This ensures they mix the right proportions of the ingredients, and they also have protective clothing to not come into contact with the chemicals.
Now you have come to the end of the article, and you know pretty well the reasons why your plant is going through such a hazard, so here is a little sum-up:
- Aphids on geraniums seem harmless at the onset of the infestation, but they can lead to significant damage when they reproduce.
- High nitrogen levels, weak plants, the presence of ants, the absence of natural predators, and weeds cause aphid infestation.
- You can prevent infestation by growing healthy plants, introducing ladybugs, and reducing fertilizer quantities.
- Choosing an insect control method depends on the size of your garden, the intensity of the infestation, and your budget.
- For example, you can pick these insects from the flowers if you have two or three geraniums, but you need chemical control methods if you have a big plantation.
You can now go ahead and pick some of the methods to tackle the issue in the right way, and your garden will look beautiful with blooming flowers again.
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