Annuals A - Z: All About Annual Flowers & Plants, by Graham Rice

Discovering Annuals, by Graham Rice

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Lathyrus (Sweet peas)

Top ten sweet pea problems

From the Daily Mail

1 Greenfly Sap sucking beasts which reduce the vigour of plants and spread incurable virus diseases. They're usually green, but the blackfly which attacks broad beans may also cause problems. Spray with Rapid, from Miracle Garden Care (UK), which spares beneficial insects and kills only greenfly.

2 Bud drop Individual buds drop off the stems before opening. The causes are difficult to pin down, even the experts are puzzled, but often include sudden changes in the weather, long dry spells, waterlogging and over-rich soil. Try to keep the soil consistently moist.

3 Pollen beetle Tiny, shiny black beetles eat the pollen and disfigure the flowers when brought indoors. A dilute spray of Jeyes Fluid (UK) at ten drops in a gallon of water often works but does not enhance the scent of the flowers! Keep cut flowers in a shed or garage well away from the light for a couple of hours before bringing them into the house. The pollen beetles will leave the flowers and head for the light and the flowers will be beetle-free by the time you take hem indoors.

4 Poor flowering After the first burst of colour flowering sometimes tails off. This is usually caused by failing to remove dead flowers. Regular dead heading is the most important factor in ensuring a long season of flower.

5 Thrips Also known as thunderbugs, thrips cause pale streaking and mottling of the leaves, usually with a silvery sheen, and the flowers may have white spots. Spray with Murphy Tumblebug (UK).

6 Caterpillars Fat green caterpillars munch the leaves leaving ragged holes. Pick them off by hand and feed them to your friendly robin or spray with Nature's Friends Caterpillar Control (UK).

7 Mosaic A virus disease spread by greenfly which causes the leaves to turn yellow, especially along the veins. New shoots become distorted and flowering tails off. This is incurable, so pull up any affected plants to protect their healthy neighbours and keep greenfly under control.

8 Red spider mite These almost invisible creatures cause dense pale speckling on the leaves then fine silky webbing develops. This is most serious in hot, dry seasons and has already been seen in some areas in the last few days. Spray with Fison's Nature's Answer to Insect Pests (UK).

9 Blindness Sweet peas grown for showing on single stem cordons may sometimes become thin and spindly and fail to flower. The problem can usually be solved by training in a strong side shoot as a replacement.

10 Mildew Especially common in hot dry periods, a powdery white coating covers the leaves and growth slows down. Spray with Bio Supercarb (UK) or any systemic fungicide.

First published in the Daily Mail, July 1995

Lathyrus (Sweet peas) A-Z


©copyright 1999 Graham Rice. All Rights Reserved. All Images Digitally Watermarked.

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