The Battle with Bugs – Part 2

After our first post on this subject, one of our readers asked if we would talk about how to spot what bugs are bugging their alstroemeria. We'll also share some environmentally gentle ways to keep them under control.

So here is how you can spot them as well as some additional possible solutions to the ones mentioned in our previous post.

Bugs that Bug Alstroemeria



How to spot ‘em In most cases they cause little or no damage to plant health. However, when the numbers get out of hand your alstroe can have twisted and curled/yellowed leaves, stunted or dead shoots and poor growth.

Solution Wash them off with a strong spray of water. Plant other plants that will attract natural enemies like lady beetles and wasps, as mentioned above. Organic pesticide such as neem oil can help. However, be aware that using any product on your plants can deter beneficial pests such as pollinators.

Harlequin Bug

How to spot ‘em Besides the fact that these bugs brightly coloured armour is easy to spot, the leaves will most likely be turning yellow and have white spotty areas that will eventually turn brown and cause the leaves to die.

SolutionMustard plants are their favourite. Once they have all congregated on there you can then employ the manual pick-off-and-squash method as mentioned previously.

Snails and Slugs

How to spot ‘emIrregular holes in the leaves and the flowers, aside from the usual tell-tale slime trails.

SolutionBesides the manual removal method, slugs and snails have many natural predators such as ground beetles, shrews, moles, hedgehogs, toads, lizards and songbirds. Many of these animals would not survive without their slugs and snails so make your garden into a mini ark for a variety of creatures.

Two-spotted Spider Mite

How to Spot ‘em The undersides of affected leaves are tan or yellow and have a crusty texture. Heavy infestations of spider mite make a fine webbing that may cover the entire plant.

Solution Manual removal and mindful use of organic pesticides can be effective. Predators include predatory mites, thrips, lacewings, and minute pirate bugs. Again, creating an environment that encourages these beneficial bugs is ultimately the key to bringing about balance.

Silverleaf and Sweetpotato Whiteflies

How to Spot ‘em When the weather gets warmer, keep an eye out for these little sap-suckers. Related to aphids, scales and mealybugs, their name comes from the white wax covering the wings and body on adult whiteflies. You will see a sticky honey dew-like substance on the leaves and they will be yellowing or dying.

Solution Again, the lacewings and pirate bugs can help with these too and parasitic wasps like Encarsia can help.


For more details on what these bugs look like and how to deal with them, have a look at this.

To conclude, it is possible to work in harmony with nature, but of course it may be a bit more of a trial and error process than a one-size-fits-all approach.

After all, these so-called “bugs” are just one little part of a system that hasn’t benefited from our “assistance” (read: interference).

What do you think?

Feel free to share your thoughts with us via social media.



Harlequin Bug

Harlequin Bug



Spider Mites

Spider Mites



The Battle with Bugs – Part 1

You starting to see more bugs in the garden?

It can be tempting to want to go out there, all guns ablazing, ready to annihilate all those pesky pests from your beloved flowers.

However, it is important to keep in mind that with critter control in gardens, the aim is not to remove all bugs completely.

It is possible to protect your plants from serious damage while maintaining an environment that attracts a variety of critters.

Working in harmony with nature encourages more diversity in the garden. This way the environment will be more balanced and it will require less interference from us.

These are some general chemical-free methods that can help control pests.

Good Hygiene

For humans, keeping things clean is in the best interests of our overall health. And it is similar with plants. Good cultivation and sanitation are the best first steps in preventing pest and disease problems in the first place.

Just like people, when plants are stressed and unloved their health suffers and DIS-ease soon follows.

So keep them well-fed and appropriately watered. Rather more seldom, long watering than frequent shorter sprinkling.

However, sometimes in spite of our efforts, disease still blows in from somewhere or certain weather brings pests to the party.

When this happens it’s best to keep an eye on your plants and keep the number of pests down, as viruses can be spread by insects.


Sticky or pheromone traps for whitefly, codling moth and plum moth can be used to good effect. This won’t get rid of all of them but it will help keep the numbers at a manageable level.

Manual Removal

If you are in your garden regularly, most bug infestations can be prevented pretty easily by manual removal. Hosing your plants can be an effective way to get rid of bugs like aphids and slugs and snails can easily be picked off.

Helpful Habitats

Some swear by what has been called “companion planting”, whereas others have found it to have little affect at all. Again, nature has so many intricate symbiotic relationships woven through it. It’s not as simple as "plant X and you’ll get Y" (interesting discussion on this here).

So here are some suggestions on plants and habitats to try that could help attract natural predators that feed on the pests. Experiment and see what works for you:

  • Coriander, Caraway, Dandelions, Fennel, Marigolds, Sunflowers, Thyme and Yarrow is loved by ladybirds that like to feed on aphids
  • Open flowers that have easily accessible pollen and nectar such as ones in the daisy and umbellifer families attract short-tongued hoverflies that predate on pests
  • Beetle banks and ground cover can attract ground beetles that feed on snails and slugs. If you buy or make a Bug Hotel, make sure it is kept dry (bugs don't like the damp)


The Crux

All in all, it seems the key is to let them all be and do their thing as much as possible. The more we start nitpicking, trying to create a perfect pest-free environment, the worse things tend to get. And the more work it is for us!

In the end they’re not really "pests". They’re all just part of a wonderfully made food chain that effortlessly takes care of itself when it’s in balance. All without our assistance!

In our next post we’ll go in to how to spot what’s bugging your alstroemeria and what you can do to bring about a balance.

Winter Gardening – What to do in January

The new year and winter is here!

It can be hard to feel enthusiastic about that when it seems the only thing going on outside is wetness and grey.

However, all you avid gardeners out there know that January is actually a fine time to prepare for a busy spring and summer.

Here’s some suggestions:

With Alstroemeria

As perennials, alstroemeria die back in winter. But they need a period of cold weather in order to stimulate shoot growth, so you can rest assured they are busy doing their thing underground.

Here’s how to support your alstroemeria during this period of hibernation so they can spring out the ground when the time is right:

In garden beds

  • Although the alstroemeria varieties we grow are garden winter hardy (withstanding soil temperatures as cold as -10°C) it is a good idea to mulch new plants well for the first couple of winters while they are establishing. This ensures they are protected until they have grown up enough to stand on their own two feet (or many roots)
  • It is best to apply a thick layer of leafy or peat-free mulch in Autumn. Composted bark is also a good option. Make sure to keep the mulch about 5cm away from the stem otherwise they may get root rot

In containers

  • Roots are more vulnerable to low temperatures when in pots than they are growing in the ground so you can move them to a location that is free of frost for the winter, such as a sheltered porch or greenhouse
  • Alstroemeria have tuberous, fleshy roots so they require sheltering and good drainage. This will prevent the compost getting too soggy with the winter rains which can also cause the dreaded root rot
  • Water lightly but frequently. The compost should dry out on the surface between watering.


General Gardening

  • Keep the birds going. Winter can be hard for them as their water sources freeze and food is more scarce so keep those feeders full and leave some of the garden a little untidy (read: wild) so they and other creatures can enjoy a bit of shelter
  • Compost/re-purpose your Christmas tree
  • Make a bug hotel and help keep your gardens eco system healthy
  • Tidy up the shed/greenhouse and sharpen your tools


Get Pruning

  • Get rid of any dead branches hanging about - plants can get too woody and untidy looking
  • Shape/reduce branches of trees and shrubs - they can get too big or start growing in the wrong direction. Relieving some weight off the top also helps the roots get stronger
  • Prune plants like roses and fruit trees as this encourages them to flower/produce fruit more vigorously


Get Transplanting

  • Prune the plant before and water thoroughly after transplanting – this helps make it less stressful for the plant
  • After pruning follow the drip line of the plant to know the how far out the roots go which will help you know how big to dig the hole
  • Be gentle when uprooting by lifting the plant out with the spade without disturbing the soil on the roots
  • When in its new spot, add some compost and bone meal to the soil and water thoroughly


Well there’s clearly plenty to be done, so we better get going!

Caring for your Alstroemeria

It could be said that Alstroemeria are a bit like Goldfish. Such an easy pet. You just sprinkle a few flakes at them everyday and keep those air bubbles going and there you have it. Much ado about nothin’!

Well, in a similar way Alstroemeria are such vigorous bloomers they don’t need much encouragement to keep going and growing.

But how much care does an Alstroemeria really need?

Here are some guidelines to help you along:


Alstroemeria are hungry little creatures, so regular weekly feeds through growing season from May to September is recommended and will encourage them to flower well and repeatedly. A high potash fertiliser is recommended such as our Alstroemeria Feed.


All of the Alstroemeria plant varieties we grow are garden winter hardy but, for the first couple of winters while they are establishing, it will be best to mulch well to make sure your new plants are protected until they are well established and can get through the winter without any assistance.


Alstroemeria are reasonably drought tolerant but will need regular watering during the summer months. If your Alstroemeria are planted in containers these tend to dry out quicker so make sure to keep the ground moist but don’t over water.

Alstroemeria need free draining soil. This is essential for them to grow well and establish in the normal way. The root system doesn’t like to be waterlogged as this can cause the roots to rot and likely cause it to die.

Picking Flowers

Alstroemeria are fabulous flowers in a vase and can last many weeks. A few tips for picking your own Alstroemeria are as follows:

Pick at the point when the buds are not yet open but have colour and looking ready to pop. They will last longer in the vase if picked at this point.

You’ll want to get hold of the stem about halfway down and give it a gentle twist followed by a sharp tug which will pull out the stem. This ensures that there are no pieces of stem left to rot which can cause fungal disease to build up on the root.

Pulling the flowering stem at the base and ripping it from the ground also encourages the plant to re-flower as it produces another bud under the ground. They‘ll then keep producing an endless supply of flowers for every vase in the home throughout the Summer.

It is best to allow the plant to become firmly established (so at least one Summer to pass after planting) until employing this method. You can still have fresh flowers by cutting them instead until the roots have had time to establish.

Dead heading

Once all the flowers in a cluster head have faded and died, remove the whole stem with a gentle tug, the same method as picking. This encourages further flower stems to sprout and keeps the plant looking neat and tidy. It also prevents it from wasting energy on producing seeds at the expense of more flowers.


So a little more care and maintenance than a Goldfish but totally worth it!