Protect Roses With Bugs
Growing Roses with Beneficial Bugs
At Heirloom Roses, we are always looking at more sustainable methods of producing our roses. One of the most exciting changes we have made at the nursery involves our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. IPM takes a holistic approach to growing roses, with an increased emphasis on scouting for pests and maintaining healthy plants as ways to minimize the use of chemicals. One of the cornerstones of our IPM program is the use of beneficial predators for pest control.
A New Motto
Avid gardeners are already familiar with the time-honored tradition of releasing ladybugs to control aphids; in essence, we have applied this philosophy within all of our greenhouses. Our first line of defense against harmful pests is now using beneficial insects (“good” bugs that eat the “bad” bugs).
Predatory mites, parasitic wasps, rove beetles and midges now roam our crop, seeking out insect pests to dine on. This has proven to be an effective and earth-friendly growing practice that has dramatically reduced insecticide use. As our beneficial supplier likes to say, “Bugs, not drugs” create healthier plants.
We use a variety of beneficial predators to control pests such as aphids, thrips, whiteflies, spider mites, and fungus gnats. These greenhouse pests are headaches for any grower; they are rarely a problem outdoors where birds and other insects keep them in check. It is this natural balance we seek to imitate in our greenhouses by releasing beneficial predators.
What has been most interesting, however, is the number of predators in the greenhouses that we never released. It turns out that Mother Nature has been waiting in the wings all along, ready to take over as soon as we reduced the insecticides. The hoverflies, ladybugs, lacewings, and Aphidius all showed up on their own. This has made scouting more challenging, as new arrivals must be studied and categorized as Friend or Foe. We ask our customers to do the same, as our beneficials may be “shared” when they are shipped with the roses. Speed is an indicator: if it moves quickly, chances are it’s a predator chasing a pest.
For more information regarding the use of beneficial insects, please visit our suppliers: Evergreen Growers Supply at www.evergreengrowers.com or Applied Bio-nomics, Ltd. at www.appliedbio-nomics.com.