Sometimes, after I turn out the light at night, I think about what I might do in the garden the next day. It isn't a real plan but a suggestion to tackle some of the many things that need my attention. The fact is if I made a list it is unlikely that I will do many of the things on that list. This morning was a good example.
My pretty little Mexican trailing purslane, Portulaca Mexicana, in a planter high up on the wall, was being visited by ants. I know immediately that spells trouble. Is it root aphids, stem aphids or scale? It had to be one of those. Closer examination revealed this-scale. I brought the leaves inside to take a good photo of them.
Scale needs to be dealt with immediately otherwise it will just overwhelm the plant and bring about its death. Early intervention is the answer. I have already battled scale on one of my cactus this year. It took a lot of effort but I think it is now scale free. Scale also likes prickly pear and citrus.
Some time later I was filling up a watering can at the barrel when I notice ants crawling up the side of the water tank garden. This time it is aphids.
There I was the other day just thinking how carefree the water garden was and now this. The mud baby, Echinodorus cordifolius, was infested with green aphids. I ran my fingers up and down the stems removing most of them and then dunked the flower heads in the water to remove the rest. I'm not sure what to do here other than hand removal because I don't want to spray with oil. I can't remove the plant because it is growing among the papyrus. I will have to go out with an artist's paint brush to remove the remaining aphids in the cracks and do this regularly until I am sure there are no more. They do make an untidy mess on the water and lily pads with their molting skins. And then there was this......
I searched for this on the internet thinking it was some kind of mealy bug but the only photograph I came up with said it was a ladybird larvae, Hyperaspis. I have never seen one look like this but apparently they secrete this waxy substance along their sides as a protective device. I'm glad I left well alone because he can get busy eating the leftovers.
Next it was the Manfreda sileri. When ants build up around the base of plants I am always concerned for root aphids. These aphids cannot be seen above the ground but settle onto the roots and suck the plant dry. They are particularly prevalent under dry conditions and favor certain plants like blackfoot daisies, skullcaps and Gulf coast penstemon to name a few. If you see a plant start to fail and there is no visible reason then consider root aphids. They do their work silently below the ground but little do they know that ants give the game away above the ground.
Now it was time to get round to doing the garden chore I had planned; removing the A. parryi pup from underneath mother. Almost buried underneath the mother plant I knew I needed to remove it this summer so that it would have the chance to settle in before winter. I have been leaving it until it was old enough to have its own root clump which it did. The damp soil made extraction easier.
Now, I could cut off the old leaves and the second pup, growing a little further away, would have more room to grow.
The pup was planted along the edge of the dry creek with plenty of room. Next on the list is to try to remove the Whale's tongue agave pup. That will be more of a challenge.
Wednesday Vignette, a moody corner
1 hour ago