You won't be the only one in love with your cut flowers. Bees and hoverflies will be buzzing around your flowers, collecting pollen and nectar. You'll want to leave some flowers uncut for the bees to enjoy too. However, you may not be so keen on the aphids feasting on the new flower buds of your Lupins or Sweet peas.

Raised Bed
Annual bed - Lupins, Larkspur, Amberboa muricata, Malope trifida and Cornflowers


Aphids.

My dainty annual Lupins ('Snow Pixie') have got an infestation of really big grey-green aphids ('Lupin aphids' to be precise). I have got over my squeamishness and now have a daily aphid squashing session which really is effective at reducing the numbers of aphids and the damage they can cause. If left unchecked, they can distort flower buds and stop them opening. As they feed on the plant sap, they also exude a sugary discharge called honeydew which can attract sooty moulds, creating black patches on plants. Squashing these bugs, instead of using chemical sprays, will ensure that beneficial insects such as ladybirds and their larvae will still thrive and in turn, they will help you in the fight against the aphids. You can also use the hosepipe to blast off large infestations or use a soap spray. My Sweet peas have also been affected, but these aphids are not nearly as big as the Lupin aphids so they're easier to squash!

Pollen beetles
Pollen beetles feasting on the pollen of Amberboa muricata


Pollen beetles.
The other main nuisance at the moment, are the thousands of pollen beetles which seem to have descended on my garden. They are more common in gardens in rural areas, especially if there are fields nearby that have crops of oilseed rape. They don't actually cause any damage to flowers, but they really do gather in large numbers. The last thing you need when you bring a jug full of flowers inside, is to have them swarming with tiny, black beetles. Thankfully, they are quite easy to remove. Once you have cut a bunch of flowers, gently wave them about upside down to dislodge the beetles or blow over all the blooms to remove them. Do this outside, before you bring them into the house. This works well for open flowers such as Cornflowers and Cosmos, but these little beetles can hide away in the folds of flowers like Sweet Peas. If you stand your picked flowers in a bucket in a dark shed with the door ajar slightly, the beetles will be attracted to the light outside and fly away.

Snails and Slugs.
Snails and slugs are more of a problem when annual seedlings are small, upon initial planting. I use organic slug pellets during these early stages and find this works really well. Without them, a crop of annuals can be wiped out overnight. As the seedlings grow, they are less likely to be chomped and you will no longer need to use the pellets. You only need a very small sprinkling of them to be effective.

Earwigs.
These small, brown insects like to eat flowers and are particularly fond of Dahlias. If your flowers start to look shredded then you may have an earwig problem. Earwigs are nocturnal. The traditional method of dealing with them is to stuff an upturned flower pot with straw and place in on top of a cane in your flower patch. This provides a refuge for the earwigs during the day. Check pots daily and dispose of any earwigs you may find.

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