Q: What are the dates of the Chelsea Flower Show, and how can I get tickets? A: The ultimate covet of gardeners everywhere, this year's...
Q: What are the dates of the Chelsea Flower Show, and how can I get tickets?
A: The ultimate covet of gardeners everywhere, this year’s Chelsea Flower Show in London, put on by the Royal Horticultural Society, is scheduled for May 23-27. You can order tickets online at www.rhs.org.uk.
Q : I have two ‘Pink Lemonade’ honeysuckles that twine through our deck railing. Early each spring, they get healthy-looking new foliage, but by late spring the trouble begins.
The leaves yellow and get black spots, eventually dropping off, and the flowers become infested with aphids.
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I’ve sprayed and defeated the aphids, but the leaf problem seems impossible.
Our neighbor, who has a lawn service spray her yard, has neither of these problems with her honeysuckle, but I hate to “nuke” the whole yard for these two plants.
A: Your instincts are right — please don’t “nuke” the garden. General spraying does little good and always harms the environment, including the insects that keep your garden healthy.
Usually, plants fall victim to disease and pests (and it sounds as if your poor vines are suffering both) because they’re unhealthy due to where they’re planted or how they’re cared for.
Healthy, vigorous plants have a far better chance of resisting pests and disease.
I’ve given up on honeysuckles because of the disfiguring, if not fatal, leaf blight you describe, and because aphids love them so. You can control aphids (easily killed, soft-bodied insects) by blasting them regularly with a strong jet of water from the hose.
The leaf blight is more difficult, for it’s a fungus like the black spot that attacks rose foliage, and it overwinters in the fallen leaves infected the previous year. In the spring, spores are rain-splashed or windblown onto new honeysuckle leaves and infect them.
Cultural practices usually can control the disease. Prune severely infected foliage during the growing season. Rake and remove fallen leaves in the fall.
Prune dead or dying stems, and selectively prune plants to increase air circulation. As with roses, water plants at the base early in the day to avoid prolonged wetting of the foliage.
If this sounds like more trouble than these vines are worth, consider honeysuckles that are more disease-resistant than the Lonicera x heckrottii ‘Pink Lemonade’ that you’re growing.
Dutch honeysuckles like Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’ or ‘Graham Thomas’ are fragrant, bloom for several months and supposedly are less prone to disease and insect problems.
Valerie Easton also writes about Plant Life in Sunday’s Pacific Northwest Magazine. Write to her at P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions. Sorry, no personal replies.