Video 10 of 13
Patch Urban Gardening Course

How can I stop bugs on outdoor plants?

In this video
How to deal with bugs on outdoor plants

Unfortunately, outdoor plants are much more exposed to pests than indoor ones, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for when identifying a pest infestation and how to deal with it. Aphids love to eat the new growth emerging in spring, and particularly thrive in warm weather. You’ll recognise them as they form clusters of small green, black or brown insects on the leaves or shoots.

You can prevent infestations by growing flowering plants that will encourage ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies to visit your container garden.  They eat aphids and so can be your little bouncers, keeping everything in check.

If an infestation is already in place, wipe the aphids from the leaf and spray with an insecticide solution. You can find our DIY recipes in our Houseplant Parenting Course via the care page on the Patch website.

Slugs and snails are particularly a problem if you keep plants in a damp and shady spot. You’ll know they’re there if you see  holes in the leaves and slightly gross slime trails.

It’s easiest to spot the slugs and snails at night if you want to confirm your suspicions. To get rid of them, you can try placing upside-down citrus skins around your plant to trap them. Copper wire or tape around the rim of your pot will also keep them away.. If all else fails, netting around your plants will stop the slugs in their tracks.

Vine weevils are also a common pest in gardens, leaving semicircular notches around the edges of leaves as a result of their night-time munchings. Their larvae are far more destructive as they feed on the plant roots until it wilts and eventually dies.

It’s best to avoid infestation in the first place by checking the roots of any new plants before potting them to ensure that no larvae are present already.

If it’s too late for that, you can buy harmless parasitic nematodes (transparent microscopic worms) to add to the soil which kill the larvae.

If you spot what looks like cotton wool on your plants you’re hosting a mealy bug infestation. These are less likely to appear outdoors, as they like warm conditions, but can sometimes set up camp in your garden. Start by cleaning the leaves with a soap and water mixture, and treating with an insecticide if the infestation is persistent.