Snail season

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Snail damage on a bromeliad.

All the rain has been wonderful for plant growth and for providing a measure of relief from the heat, but it also brings out the snails. Take a walk through your garden early in the early morning and look for them. They will eat away the soft tissue of bromeliads, amaryllis, crinum lilies, and aroids.

Snails also may infest your orchid collection, so examine your potted orchids and even those in wooden baskets. Baskets may appear to have tiny bumps on them, but look closely and you may find that those are baby snails. Rub them off or soak the basket in a bucket of soapy water for a few minutes.

Collect snails in a jar of soapy water or in a plastic bag and discard them. It's best to make a few snail patrols at night or dawn.

A saucer of beer nudged into the ground at soil level will lure in snails and kill them overnight. Or, a 2-x-4 at the edge of the garden, positioned barely above ground, may collect a few on the bottom overnight.

Aphids also are busy when rains stimulate new growth. Watch for curling and distorted new leaves. Wait for the lady bugs to arrive or use a strong stream of water from the hose to wash them from their feeding outposts. Because the new growth is so tender, cup one hand about the leaves while spraying the hose to help protect the foliage.