In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
August, 2000
Regional Report

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The beauty of a "surprise" white gladiolus.

Of Gladiolus and Aphids

One of the pleasures of gardening is the occasional surprise that pops up when least expected. Late last spring I bought a bag of unnamed gladioli corms. They were old and shopworn, but I thought they had promise so I rescued them from the half-price bin. They sat around the garage for another few weeks until I could find a spot in the garden - and time- to plant them.



Gladiolus Surprise

I actually forgot all about the corms until they began to sprout. With such a late start in the garden I didn't expect much. A few leaves perhaps, but probably no flowers. Was I ever wrong. They've developed tall stalks, and the flowers are just now beginning to open. And here's the bonus - I planted them in my moon garden, which contains only white flowers, and, you guessed it: the glads are white. What a nice surprise!

Aphids on Pansies

Of course, there are some surprises that I can do without. I forgot to check my pansies for a few days, and now they're loaded with aphids. I shouldn't complain - this pot of pansies was a gift, and they've been blooming steadily since early March. Actually, I found aphids on a neighboring fuchsia a few weeks ago but didn't make an effort to control them. Fuchsias seem to be magnets for aphids. I should have at least washed them off with water then - now I have aphids everywhere!

Soaping Down the Aphids

Insecticidal soap works well against soft-bodied aphids, but because of their high reproduction rate, aphids must be aggressively treated. I've found that repeated applications of insecticidal soap will burn tender leaves, turning them into brown, crispy critters. You can avoid the problem by spraying, waiting 20 minutes, and then rinsing any residue off the leaves. This two-step process kills the pests yet keeps the leaves from turning brown.


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