London (change)
20 messages
06/10/2012 at 19:47

Hi - I have got several lupins in my garden, which have had a terrible year presumably because of the lack of sun.  For the last 6 to 8 weeks, they have been absolutely smothered in green/whitefly - often two or three deep.  I have gone around many times wiping them all off with kitchen towel (and squashing a lot of them!), but the next day, there they all are again.  I have also sprayed with organic pesticide - I think that it is fish oils - which washes them all of, but again, there they are again the next day.  I bought a load of ladybirds, which all promptly flew away (home I guess ), and now my lupins are all dead looking, with grey/black foliage and very floppy.  Any greens bits are still smothered with greenfly.  Do you think that they will come back again next year, or have the flies sucked all of the nutrients out of them?  If they are doomed, I might take them out now and put new ones in next Spring.  Thanks as ever for all your helpful advice!

06/10/2012 at 20:27
A few years back I learned of new strain of lupin aphids....from USA I think. Bigger than usual and they decimated my plants. I'm not too keen on preemptive sprays but it's advisable with lupins. Early in spring spray with systemic insecticide and again before flower spikes appear. Lupins should,come back unless,they have rotted.
06/10/2012 at 21:06

Oh - that's spooky Christopher, as I was thinking to myself that they were a lot bigger than I had seen before, and also that it was strange that they were only on the lupins and not the roses.  Boo to the lupin aphid!  I've just looked them up and you are right - they are exactly what I have got.  And, horribly, they kill ladybirds too, so perhaps mine didn't fly away after all.... No insecticides for me I'm afraid - 100% organic. I think I will get them out of the ground now, as from the articles I've read the lupins are pretty much doomed anyway and these horrible aphids can spread viruses too.   Thanks so much for the heads up 

06/10/2012 at 21:11

 I use a high pressure hose to remove aphids organically, the lupins  have flowered quite happily, but it does need doing every day to get on top of it.

06/10/2012 at 21:35


Being organic obviously restricts your weaponry somewhat-but I wouldn't give up yet-why not cut most of the foliage off-dig up and divide a few roots and plant in a different place?

As for the aphids eating ladybirds I somehow doubt it-where did you read that?

06/10/2012 at 21:46

Have you got these super-lupin-aphids kate?  Because I have tried the hose quite a few times but they just climb straight back up.  Here's a quote from the article sotongeoff - although I didn't read the word 'larvae' before, which is a relief as they didn't kill the adult ladybirds:

"larvae of the ladybirdCoccinella septempunctata fed on lupin aphids from bitter cultivars (L. albusL. angustifolius and L. mutabilis) died after around three days. However, hoverfly and lacewing larvae appeared less sensitive and some developed to adulthood".


Thanks for the advice about digging up and dividing - I will try that, although it will be interesting trying to find a new spot - I have got a small garden and lot of plants

06/10/2012 at 21:54

That does surprise me and still have my doubts

I did get an attack of the aphids in the front garden and nearly gave up on lupins because of it-but divided the plant and replanted in the back -no aphids but might just be lucky

Did I read that right-you bought some ladybirds??

06/10/2012 at 22:29

It does sound crazy doesn't it   But yes, you can buy ladybirds and lacewings and nemotode worms and all sorts of natural predators.  When you buy ladybirds they come in the post and they are in a little pot full of cheerios, which they seem to like.  Aparenty the trick is to let them out in the evening as then they tend to stay put for the night and go foraging in your own garden the next morning - unlike what I did which was to let them all out in the morning and never see them again!

06/10/2012 at 22:52

Lunarz I do not know if they were super powerful aphids but after 3 weeks of knocking them off they just gave up.

07/10/2012 at 09:25
They are a super breed of aphids specific....I stand to be lupins. But they are easy to deter
07/10/2012 at 10:52

Not that easy if you are organic-in my rage- as even garden sprays were ineffective I used a household spray in desperation-Lunarz and others will shudder at this bit it did wipe them out-that is when the plant got moved.

Without being unkind, still find it amusing about ladybirds flying away-they had been cooped up with just cheerios for company-they must have looked at each other- thought over looks nice-looked down at the wings and whispered lets make a break for it while she not looking and ....................

07/10/2012 at 11:28

LOL   When you write things down for others to read, they sound a lot more crazy than when you hear them in your own head!  I am passionate about being organic though, so I will try the ladybirds again next Spring - at least I am rescuing them from the ladybird farm, even if they don't reciprocate the favour by eating my aphids!

07/10/2012 at 11:50

There's a ladybird farm!!-I did not know such places existed-you learn something new -nearly every day.

07/10/2012 at 17:13
Sotongeoff, is washing up liquid allowed? Or soft soap, preferably?
07/10/2012 at 17:31

Christopher-I am not the person to ask-I am quite happy to use a chemical spray if that is the best solution but that is not the way Lunarz gardens as is her choice.

The question is a soapy spray a chemical or organic solution-honestly I don't know- but it is not that effective in my experience.

The trouble is anything truly organic as everything is essentially made up of chemicals-isn't it?-but then I don't claim to be a scientist


07/10/2012 at 18:05

Thanks for the ideas Christopher, but soap wouldn't be organic.  I felt bad using the fish oil to be honest, because as sotongeoff says, it is still chemically processed and clearly bad for some insects otherwise it wouldn't be effective on aphids.  In organic gardening we only usually tend to use nettle juice, comfrey juice or seaweed to fertilize, compost and leaf mould to improve the soil and natural predators to control pests - perhaps the odd bit of milk or bicarbonate of soda to control mildew.  It's all about nurturing every component of the little ecosystem of your garden, right down to the bacteria in the soil, and letting it work for you to have strong plants which will be pest resistant naturally.  I will take out the lupins and let the aphids go elsewhere - and to be honest, if the next garden they end up in is someone like sotongeoff who promptly sprays them, I wouldn't lose too much sleep - espeically as they are not even a native species 

07/10/2012 at 19:33
Ok lunarz. That's interesting. I thought soft soap was allowable in organic cultivation. I am increasingly moving away from chemicals.....I use slug pellets very sparingly, for example, only in early spring. A friend grows without,killing anything, is,totally organic but rarely grows anything very well. It's difficult...I want plants to look really good so,use vine weevil controls, for example. I pick,off lily beetles, fleece peas for pea moth, cover peaches for peach leaf curl and spray with water for red spider mite on my,picea and pick off slugs n snails during the summer. I use organic fertiliser, fish blood n bone, and seaweed spray. Maybe I'm thinking on right lines.?
10/10/2012 at 11:54

Definitely on the right lines Christopher.  You would be amazed at the huge number of micro-flora and fauna in the soil - fungus, bacteria and animals all of which do a job - releasing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to feed the plants, helping create root systems, helping the plant take up nutrients and water, protecting the plant from predators.  Once pesticides and insecticides are used, or artificial NPK fertilizer (fertiliser with artificially added Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K), these beneficial micro-flora and fauna are destroyed.  For instance, if you use artificial fertilizer, the soil loses its ability to create it's own NPK and you are then totally reliant on the artificial fertilizers going forward.  For this reason, a lot of people who decide to go organic don't have very much success in the first couple of years unless they do a huge amount to improve the soil with compost, manure and natural fertilizers, because the soil has been destroyed.  As for pests, in a natural environment, every pest has got a natural predator, but of course being a single organic garden in the midst of non-organic gardens, a lot of those predators have unfortunately been eliminatedby insecticides, so you have to get creative and it usually involves a lot of picking off by hand and squashing unfortunately! 

15/10/2012 at 15:59

By the way Christopher, your organic friend should also try mycorrhizal fungi - which is marketed as Root Grow, which adds back the fungus into the soil which is used by the plant to grow root systems.  When you dig the hole, sprinkle on the bottom where the root ball of the plant will make direct contact with the powder.  It really works - I am going to add a little bit to my compost/manure mulch this autumn to help the plants grow in the Spring.

15/10/2012 at 16:07
Lunarz, I do use that. It's esp good for heathers. Never thought of adding it to my compost heap though. Thanks.
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