Leaf Miners Indoor & Outdoor Pests

Leaf miners have been at work here, NC

Leaf miners are the larvae of moths, beetles, maggots, flies or caterpillars that have hatched between the upper and lower epidermis of a leaf. They then burrow there way out eating part of the leaf and leaving a trail.

Common Types from 524 Leaf Miners

  • Chrysanthemum leaf miner ‘Phytomyza chrysanthemi’ also known as the Margurite fly.
  • Privet leaf miner ‘Gracilaria cuculipennella’
  • Palm leaf miner ‘Homaledra sabelella’
  • Other favourite indoor targets include Ficus species and African Violets.
  • A few mining insects use other parts of a plant, such as the surface of a fruit.
  • The horse chestnut leaf miner ‘Cameraria ohridella’

Damage and Control

  • Deterioration of plants leaf by leaf results from the tunneling or mining activity.
  • Some damage is linear some is serpentine.
  • Blotches and circular ruptures may occur where the surface has been eaten away.
  • Sprays are largely ineffective as the insect is protected under the surface of the leaf.
  • Systemic insecticide is the only cure. Insecticides recommended for leaf miner control on farm crops include carbaryl, chlorfenvinphos, diazinon, dimethoate and trichlorphon.
  • Infected leaves should be pruned off and destroyed.
  • Farmers may reduce or prevent problems by planting trap or distraction crops near the plants to be protected


Jatropha leaf miners

Sources Creative Commons
Top; by Martin LaBar, on Flickr’ leaf miners, insects that, generally as larvae, burrow between the upper and lower epidermis of leaves. An interesting ecological niche!’
Lower; leaf miners by tonrulkens, on Flickr

Read British Leaf Miners


Kill Moss and Algae on Paths

Book Cover

Winter and during wet weather are the worst times for moss and algae growth which makes paths wet and slippery. Slippery surfaces are unsightly and dangerous and need treatment.

Physical Removal

  • Algae can be removed by a pressure washer or stiff brush.
  • Dislodge moss between paving by running a sharp knife along the cracks.
  • Use a stiff wire brush on block paving. Try buy a long handled wire brush to save your back.
  • Choose a dry sunny day so the surface has a chance to dry.

Chemical Treatments

  • Most moss and algae treatments are biodegradable since harsher chemicals are banned by the EC
  • Path Clear products in concentrate or ready to use are available from amazon
  • Natural fatty acid products like Bayer Advanced moss killer use acetic, pelargonic and fatty acids.

Continue Reading →


Medicine for Houseplants


A restOrchids

Keep Plants and Pots Tidy to Prevent Disease

  • Potential breeding places can be eliminated by sprucing up your plants,
  • Deteriorating leaves and faded or dead blooms should be removed.
  • Dead leaves and debris should be picked off the surface of the soil.
  • Dust off any obstructions that can block the pores of the leaves. Some plants benefit from a damp sponge on the leaves.
  • In the case of sick and infested plants disinfect/steralise saucers and containers.

Give Plants What They Need

  • A rest may be all a plant needs if it been performing flowering miracles through summer
  • Provide the right conditions to suit the type of plant.
  • Do not over water or leave standing in water.
  • Provide the right sort of soil for the plant. Special composts are now pre-formulated for Orchids, Cactus, acid lovers, Bonsai etc.
  • Keep temperatures at a consistent and appropriate level.
  • Give plants adequate light and avoid sun scorching

If All Else Fails

  • Sick plants should be separated from healthy plants to avoid cross contamination
  • Always wash your hands and tools after handling a sick plant.
  • Develop a callous attitude to badly infested or diseased plants. Accept some failures and destroy them saving your time and energy for healthy specimens.



Spider Plant

What you need to know about Spider plants

Chlorophytum comosum variegatum

  • Whilst Spider plants are common and oft forgotten houseplants a bit of LTC (tender loving care) will produce grand specimens.
  • Spiders are voracious eaters and that is also true of Spider Plants so give them plenty of nitrogen based fertiliser.
  • Spider plants are also called Chlorophytum comosum variegatum – quite a mouthful or another name is St Bernards Lily. Or you could call it ‘Boris’
  • Healthy leaves look good. Keep plants moist for good foliage
  • The flowers are small often insignificant white blossom.
  • Happy plants produce off-spring in the form of baby plantlets at the end of runners.
  • Runners are easy to put in a pot with compost to grow new plants.
  • Repot in loam and feed the fleshy root system
  • Continue Reading →

Gaultheria Berries in Winter

Purple and White Berried Gaultheria

  • Gaultheria are a range of shrubs often with aromatic evergreen leaves.
  • Grow for the fleshy coloured berries or calyx and look for Gaultheria mucronata
  • Some species are unisex and one male to six female shrubs will increase berrying
  • Grow in acid soil conditions with heathers and conifers or in a pot with ericaceous compost.
  • Flowers and leaves are small in comparison to the berries
  • The plants do not want any extra fertiliser
  • Also named Pernettya or Prickly Heath

Conservatory Plants

November is a great time to plan next years plants for your conservatory. I would go for ‘shock and awe’ with some bold colours.

Lantana camara is worth the space in your cool conservatory where it will bloom from spring to late summer. It is evergreen and flowers best with good light. You will often see it in  Mediterranean gardens. There are numerous colour forms for this plant but my favourite is an orange flower changing to red.

Jasminum polyanthum is a favourite evergreen, twining climber. It has big clusters of white flowers tinged pink throughout summer. The heady scent permiates the conservatory especially in the evenings.

For winter interest Correa harrisii is a small evergreen shrub with an abundance of scarlet flowers during late winter. The leaves are narrow ovals with hairy undersides. Fragrant pink flowers are grown on Luculia gratissima.

Good partners for next summer are Cassia obtusa with deep yellow flowers contrasting with the purple-blue flowered evergreen Brunfelsia pauciflora.


Growing Lawns from Seed

The best times of year for sowing a lawn are March and early September. The ground will be warm or warming up and there should still be enough moisture to encourage the grass to grow. Dependant on the location and use of the lawn choose a seed mix not one individual variety. For sports fields they use rye grass but this is too coarse so avoid Rye grass mixes.

Hard Wearing Lawn

High Quality




Chewing’s fescue



New Zealand Crested Dogstail


Browntop Agrostis tenuis




Fine leaved fescue


Sheep’s fescue


Creeping Red fescue


Grass Sowing Tips

  • Rake a fine tilth and firm the soil down without compacting it
  • Remove stones and check the ground is level filling hollows
  • Apply phosphates
  • Mark areas and sow half the seed in one direction top to bottom then sow the other half side to side or hire a seed sower.
  • Roll the lawn twice to bring the seed into firm contact with the soil and bring a little moisture to the surface.
  • Erect a barrier to stop people walking on the new seeded area and put up cotton or bird scarers
  • Finer grass has smaller seeds so shake or mix your seed well before sowing

Silver Birch – 8 Species Review

Silver Birch look the part on a cold and frosty morning. The white or silvery trunk looks good singly or when grouped together.
boxing morning 102

Key Features of the Silver Birch

  • Latin name Betula pendula other common names Curly birch, Paper Birch, Weeping Birch or Ribbon Tree
  • Height up to 100 feet 30m narrow spread.
  • Type of tree – Deciduous broad leaf
  • Leaves – Green and triangular shaped with toothed edges.
  • Flowers Male and female catkins borne on the same tree.
    Male are yellow and drooping female green and upright, later pendulous when fertilised.
  • Fruit Winged seeds borne in catkins
  • Bark Silver white with black fissures.
  • Family Betulacea

Origins and Distribution of the Silver Birch

  • European origin found throughout Europe, western and northern Asia.
  • Seeds prolifically and is found in Canada, Scandinavia, Turkey and widely spread as a specimen ornamental.

Uses and Commercial Attributes of the Silver Birch

  • Used for making barrels and furniture. The wood is too soft for use in construction
  • The fine twiggy branches are used for brooms and besoms as well as racecourse jumps.
  • Used as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens.
  • Silver birch is popular in Finland where it is the national tree used in forestry and as branches to beat yourself in the sauna.
  •   Historically the paper like bark was used in ancient times for writing Sanskrit texts and it is still used today for sacred mantras.

Gardeners Tips for the Silver Birch

  • Silver Birch grow in a cool climate and enjoy an occasional winter snowfall.
  • They are fast growing, shallow rooted that may require water during dry periods.
  • They grow best and show most colour in full sun planted in deep, well-drained soil..
  • Trees are short lived and rot from damage so dislike pruning.
  • They are often planted amongst leafy rhododendrons and conifers where the white bark is particularly striking.
  • The deciduous foliage turns yellow in autumn.

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Thrifty Gardening

Gardening is an area where there are many ways of saving money or reducing costs. A thrifty approach to gardening is not only possible it is highly desirable particularly in the early stages of gardening. It would be easy to buy the most expensive and decorative plants in the garden centre only to find that you didn’t know what you were letting yourself in for. The plant may die or fail in some other way because you didn’t understand its needs and the care required to look after it. So ask for advice.

Pelargonium grandiflorum

Extra Plants for Free

  1. Increase your own stock by collecting seeds from annuals and plants you like. Leave a few vegetables to ‘run to seed’ e.g. peas and beans are good examples – at the end of the season let them grow until the seed pod is mature then collect and separate to dry the beans or peas and sow them again in spring.
  2. Increase your own stock by taking cuttings. Don’t worry about the occasional failure but take enough cuttings to cover losses.
  3. Increase stock by dividing up large clumps of plants. Many plants like Iris need this division treatment to remain healthy.
  4. Local horticultural and gardening clubs, neighbours, church fairs, friends, and family are good sources of cuttings, seeds and cheap but healthy plants.
  5. Look in your own garden for self sown plants I had some great cowslips in the garden when I arrived probably from seeds dropped by birds.
  6. Seeds or cuttings collected from positions where they are not needed to maintain the environment. (That is not to encourage theft from gardens or damage to the environment but there are many occasions when an opportunity won’t cause any problem)

Save on Consumables and Equipment

  1. Water is costly when metered so mulch rather than water. Water key plants individually and deeply. Collect rainwater in a barrel.
  2. Make your own seed pots from old packaging, margarine tubs, yoghurt pots or paper towel roll ends.
  3. If you have several old marked labels clean then in a jar of bleach to be able to reuse.
  4. Use organic slug control methods which tend to be free or cheap.

Top Gardeners Tip
Grow what gives you pleasure but if you can eat it or use it instead of buying something, like a bunch of flowers or present then you will get double value & pleasure.


How To Take Root Cuttings

Root Cuttings make an excellent way to increase the number of plants. They can be taken in the middle of winter when not much else is happening in the garden.

Plants which can be Grown through taking Root Cuttings

  • Phlox
  • Mint,
  • Japanese Anemones
  • Primulas
  • Oriental Poppies

Continue Reading →


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