They Get Questions About Aphids


From the Contra Costa Times, we get more of Ruth Bancroft’s answers, plus a picture too.

Sempervivum hybrid (Becky Rice/Ruth Bancroft Garden)

Q: I have a patch of little hen-and-chicks in my garden (this is what I have always called them, though they came labeled as Sempervivum) with an appealing purple color. Some of the heads do not look right, and seem to have a sticky substance on them. What could cause this?

A: Sempervivums, with their clustering habit and neat little rosettes, are popular garden plants. Coming from the mountain ranges of Europe, they are very cold-hardy, but they are also prone to attack by aphids, as you have discovered.

These small sucking insects secrete a sweet sticky substance that often attracts ants. However, aphids are not hard to combat, without the need for toxic chemicals. Simply keep a spray-bottle of Safer Soap handy to spritz the affected plants.

Note that another group of rosette-forming succulents from Mexico, the Echeverias, share the common name “hens-and-chicks.”


    
    
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