How to kill aphids with washing up liquid

Monty Don gives advice on dealing with aphids

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There are more than 500 species of aphid in the UK and the insects vary in size and colour. Often aphids in the UK range from 1mm to 7mm long and are green, black, yellow, brown or orange in colour. To the frustration of gardening fans, aphids can make their homes on most types of plants, including houseplants, fruit and vegetables.

Why are aphids bad for plants?

Also known as greenfly, blackfly and plant lice, aphids can cause plants to grow poorly.

If aphids make their home on a plant in large numbers, it is common for plants affected to be weak with curled or damaged leaves.

Aphids also excrete a sticky substance known as honeydew, and on this substance, sooty moulds can grow over plants.

Aphids can also transfer viruses and diseases between plants and infected plants have to be destroyed.

How do you deal with aphids?

Often in gardens, nature takes its course and birds pick off aphids from plants.

Aphids are also a big food source for many insects, such as ladybirds and wasps.

So it may be possible to allow natural predators to take care of aphids themselves, rather than intervene.

However, if aphids are present on indoor plants or in places like outdoor vegetable patches, steps may need to be taken to stop aphids from destroying plants.

For indoor plants affected by aphids, Gardeners’ World explains aphids can usually be washed off plants with a jet of water from a hose.

Make sure to wash under the plant’s leaves, in case there are any aphids clinging on in hard to spot areas.

Hand-squashing small infestations is also an option for dealing with an aphid infestation.

Alternatively, there are a number of environmentally-friendly pesticide options which can help control aphid numbers.

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Can you kill aphids with washing-up liquid?

Many gardeners suggest using washing-up liquid to help control an aphid infestation.

The general consensus online suggests using a weak solution of washing up liquid and water, which will kill aphids on contact when sprayed directly on the plant.

However, it should be noted using washing up liquid in this way can also cause harm to other natural predators which are good for the natural balance of a garden.

Thompson Morgan explains on their website: “You can buy insecticidal soaps but many people make up their own using a teaspoon of washing up liquid diluted in three litres of water.

“The aphids are unable to breath under a coating of soap and subsequently suffocate.

“If you intend to try this, then be sure to spray on a dull day as spraying in full sun is likely to scorch the foliage.”

Other organic sprays to deal with aphids may include plant extracts or plant oils.

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