Spring into Summer: David Domoney discusses blossom trees
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Our gardens have never been more important, creating space to socialise with friends and family after months in lockdown. Adding plants, bushes and trees can help make any green space feel more inviting, and knowing how to care for them all year round is crucial.
With any plant, there are certain diseases, insects or fungus which can impact longevity and appearance.
Fruit trees like any other tree can see rot, aphids, frost damage and more impact their life cycle.
There are some common fruit tree diseases, which can be prevented by proper care.
Pruning the trees often, planting in a sunny spot and making sure sun and air can get through the branches are all ways to prevent disease in your fruit plants.
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Diseases tend to spread in dark and damp environments.
Another cause of disease in fruit trees can be insect infestation.
Aphids are invasive sap-sucking insects which are destructive to plants.
Usually, you will be able to see aphid colonies with the naked eye with many species spotted under shoot tips, flower buds and the underside of younger leaves.
Aphids can cause stunted growth with curled or distorted leaves and can weaken the plant.
They also secrete a sticky substance which is known as honeydew, and this can attract ants.
If you follow a trail of ants in your garden, you could be led straight to an aphid infestation.
Aphids create multiple generations in a single year and so infestations can quickly escalate.
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To help remove aphids you can use a solution of mild soapy water.
You can buy specific insecticidal soaps, however, a cost-effective method involves water and washing up liquid.
Simply mix a teaspoon of washing up liquid into three litres of water.
Using a spray bottle, spritz this solution over the affected areas.
The washing up liquid will coat the aphids and prevent them from breathing, meaning they will suffocate.
Try and spray on an overcast day as the mixture of washing up liquid and water combined with the sun may scorch your leaves.
You can also try using a hosepipe to knock aphids off, however, this can cause damage to your plants should the hosepipe’s jets be too strong.
Other methods also include squashing the insects between your thumb and forefinger, however, this can be a gruesome and time-consuming task.
You can prevent aphids using neem oil or essential oils around your plant, or opting for growing plants which will attract natural aphid predators.
Ladybirds, birds and green lacewings are all aphid predators and can help prevent infestation.
You can buy ladybird larvae or green lacewing eggs, and installing a birdhouse can help attract winged predators.
Plants such as catnip, garlic, onion, chives and allium are all natural aphid repellants, while dahlias, asters, cosmos, zinnias and nasturtium can trap aphids.
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