Tag Archives: insecticidal soap

I Cut Down My Beloved Bougainvillea

Hot Pink - full bloom - mlm c@

I have always loved bougainvillea (pronounced “boo gan vee ah”) from afar. The first one I ever saw in person was in San Francisco. It had climbed two stories, and was rambling all over a 2nd floor terrace. I was enchanted with that beautiful vine. So, when we moved to central Florida, I knew that was the first tropical plant I would buy, and it was. Sadly, our tiny yard does not have a great place for this flowering vine to climb and roam. It needs a fence or garden wall to tumble over and sprawl to its heart’s content. We don’t have that place.

With a heavy heart, I cut down my bougainvillea this week. I have loved it and fretted over it for 2-1/2 years. When in full bloom, people walking their dogs would stop by and ask about it, or comment on it. It was absolutely gorgeous each spring, and very pretty in the fall. The rest of the year, it was very high maintenance with frequent pruning required to prevent it from hanging out over our front walk, and constant spraying with insecticidal soap in a failing effort to rid it of those pesky caterpillars.

On House - mlm c@

This photo was taken shortly after a severe pruning to remove it from the gutters, sofit, and roof. It had even wrapped around the downspout.

Bougainvillea grows rapidly here. Who am I kidding? Everything grows rapidly here. That can be a wonderful thing. It can also be a not so good thing. My bougainvillea was against the wall of our garage, which is parallel to the walk that leads to the front door of our home. Frequent pruning was required to keep the upper limbs from hanging out over that walk. I could walk under a lot of them, but most folks had to dodge the thorny branches of this prolific vine.

More Caterpillar Damage - mlm c@

It was once taller than the house, and soon would have been lying on the roof. Not good.

This fall, it has had only a few flowers because the caterpillars were eating the newest growth before it could mature. We’ve had a  hotter than normal summer, so insecticidal oils that don’t wash off when it rains, melted off in the heat. We’ve also had a very rainy summer, so after each rain I had to spray insecticidal soap again, and again, and again.

 

And then, there were those thorns. Those huge thorns.

Thorns mlm c@

 It all got to be too much trouble for this gardener.

Caterpillar Feces - mlm c@

The droppings of those caterpillars were all over our front walk, and had to be swept away daily, sometimes twice daily.

Here you see the tiny droppings on my day lilies. They are so small, they could have gotten in between our dog’s pads, or the soles of our shoes, and been tracked into the house. That presents a potential health threat. Those caterpillars had to go. Unfortunately, that meant the bougainvillea had to go, too.

Do You Know Which Part Is the Actual Flower?

Hot Pink - zoomed mlm c@

Although the showy colorful bracts everyone loves are the most dramatic part, the tiny white blossom in the center is the actual flower. They’re like poinsettias in that way.

Each bract has 3 sections with a tiny flower emerging at its base.

Hot Pink - zoomed 2 mlm c@

Will I miss the show bougainvillea puts on each spring?

Purple - mlm c@

No, I can still enjoy them in other peoples’ gardens, such as this one a couple of miles from my home.

It’s kind of like being a grandparent. You get to enjoy the kids without having to be the primary caretaker.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Eating My Basil?

Gina's Basil copyrighted

My friend and neighbor, Gina, texted me some photos of her basil leaves this week. Unfortunately, the first one didn’t come in right away, so I saw only the 2nd and 3rd ones until just now. The above photo (the 2nd one to arrive) shows leaves with holes in them. The 3rd photo, below, shows a worm or caterpillar on a basil leaf. Here’s that little critter:

Gina's Basil Worm copyrighted

My Suggestion: insecticidal soap

Insecticidal Soap

GardenSafe is the brand I use, and is the same photo I texted back to Gina. Normally, I use Neem Oil because it doesn’t wash off  with rain, but this time of year it is so hot around here, the oil melts and slides right off the plants. Both of these products are safe to use on vegetable plans as well as flowers. I insist on organic gardening in my kitchen garden, and these products are perfect for that. The only down-side of the soap is that, after a rain, you will need to spray again. I got this insecticidal soap at Lowe’s, and my Neem Oil at Ace Hardware, but most any good garden center should have them.

Because I missed that first photo — it was late arriving in my in-box —  I didn’t see the whitish squiggly things that Gina mentioned, and told her it was probably mealy bugs. Now that I have seen it, I see I was wrong. The squiggles she mentioned appear to be trails left behind by slugs. For more information see my April 20, 2015, post entitled, Amy Asks What to Do About Snails.

Something weird is going on in cyberspace yet again:  I emailed all the photos to myself to get them on the computer, and again, the same one is the only one that hasn’t shown up yet. Those white squiggles Gina mentioned can be seen in the top photo above on part of a leaf showing out from the main one with holes in it. Looks like slug trails to me.