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Insect and Disease Problems

My garden consists of a balcony on the north side with a little bit of eastern exposure with a little morning sun. I've had so much trouble with bugs and mildew. I've been dumping plants all summer and buying new ones. Even begonias and impatiens didn't do well. First it was aphids, then mildew, then whiteflies. I did so much spraying with all kinds of things including insecticide. The bugs finally seem to be gone but the plants look terrible.  The leaves have white stuff on them and some have black.

Every growing season seems to have its challenges.  Hot dry weather is great for the bugs and stressful on the plants.  Heavy rains help dislodge many of the insects but often increase disease problems.  Here are a couple things that may help.  Evaluate the sunlight throughout the day during the growing season.  You may be surprised to find your balcony provides enough light for you to grow partially shaded plants.  If not continue to grow impatiens, begonias, coleus, caladium, calla lilies and other shade tolerant plants.  You may even want to try a few low light houseplants like philodendron, pothos, cast iron plant, ferns, Chinese evergreen, and peace lily.  Then make sure plants have plenty of space.  Good light and air circulation will reduce disease problems like powdery mildew.  Start with clean pots and fresh soil next season.  Carefully inspect new plants and only purchase those free of insects and disease.  Once problems occur, try handpicking insects and spotted leaves or use some of the more environmentally friendly products like Neem (formulations for insect and disease control), insecticidal soap and hot pepper wax.  Outdoor plants can usually tolerate white flies.  If treatment is needed you will need to make three applications of permethrin 5 days apart.  And if you miss one application you need to start over.  Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using any chemicals.  And take heart, there is always next season. 


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