Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - A full-scale war with slug pests

The Clematis ‘Warsaw Nike’ has put on a spurt of growth

The Clematis ‘Warsaw Nike’ has put on a spurt of growth

First published in News

It’s a war out there! The slugs – I don’t think I’ve seen so many, and they are huge.

A word of caution here – those giant numbers are actually omnivores and will eat the little numbers that disappear underground in daylight.

The big ones are not a problem in my garden as I rarely direct sow seeds, which are a favourite as they germinate. But this year I made the mistake of putting out some well-grown Orlaya grandiflora (Lacecap flower) that had been grown from seed and was doing well, because I wanted it to establish before the upcoming Open Gardens weekend (this weekend – we are selling the maps).

So out I went, planted said Orlayas, slept, and was heading off to work when... screech to a halt. Much scratching of head.

I put some plants out yesterday but they ain’t there now. Not a stalk, nothing, completely disappeared.

The sticky copper tape of last week is no good unless you get hold of the actual shaped rings that sit around a group of plants, so the next thing was SlugGone Wool Pellets. These seem to be the latest weapon in the war and, combined with beer traps, will hopefully do the job.

Remember the nematodes mentioned last week too – the more you have in your arsenal (non-damaging to the environment, please) the better.

The other thing is the greenfly – though I have noticed quite a few ladybirds about already – and capsid bug. If you have leaves that look like they have been shot through with tiny pellets then you have capsid bug. To be honest, apart from spraying everything green, learn to live with it – I just pick off the worst affected leaves and ignore the rest.

I don’t tend to grow permanent stuff in containers but many people do, so from now until September, feed them with a balanced liquid fertiliser when you water. Be aware that if you have Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas in pots, they are now making the buds for next spring so it is very important to feed and water them all through the summer.

On a positive note, my roses look a treat. They are flowering their socks off and I have given them a good handful of rose fertiliser and a mulch of garden compost around their roots.

‘The Lady of Megginch’ is glorious, as is ‘Falstaff’ which I grow as a short climber. ‘William Morris’, cut to within an inch of its life and threatened, seems to have taken the threat seriously. Even ‘Guinee’, whacked about when the fence went awry, has recovered and put on new growth when I thought it was a goner!

Likewise the Clematis – the lovely ‘Warsaw Nike’ is flowering among the branches of Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ and picking up the maroon tones, and viticella ‘Alba Luxurians’ which resolutely refused to even show its head last year, has put on a phenomenal spurt of growth – so it’s not all bad out there!

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