A healthy, happy plant is far less susceptible to pests and diseases, and in a balanced garden pests can often be controlled by their natural predators  – lady beetles, for example, munch on aphids. Here are our key tips to help your plants resist pests and disease:

1. Water

Thirsty plants are already stressed, and will struggle if they need to contend with pests and diseases too. Your plants will always prefer a slow, long drink over a quick sprinkle, particularly if the soil has dried out. Once the first 10cm or so of soil has become dry, even very frequent light watering won’t allow the moisture to make it down to your plant’s roots. On the other hand, over-watering combined with poor drainage can cause your plants to rot. If you’re unsure how much water your plants need or find it tough to water regularly, consider installing an irrigation system with a timer.

2. Water Retention

Getting your watering pattern right is one thing, but if the water evaporates from the soil in no time flat, it’s no more use to your plants than if you’d forgotten about them. Treat your soil with a wetting agent – this will help draw the water down to the roots, and granular agents like Wettasoil will actually absorb some moisture in order to keep a backup reservoir handy for your plants. Adding compost and manure can also help to improve water retention. When you’ve watered thoroughly, top up your mulch (it should be around 5cm thick) to reduce evaporation and also provide a barrier to stop pesky weeds.

3. Seaweed Solution

Just like us, your plants require a balance of quite a number of different vitamins and nutrients. If a plant it already stressed, the last thing it needs is a dose of fertiliser (nitrogen) as this can burn its roots. Instead, treat it regularly with a seaweed solution such as Seasol. It’s like a plant multivitamin, is nitrogen free, and will help restore nutrient balance.

4. The Answer is in the Soil

It’s human nature to focus on our plants rather than our soil, but healthy soil will mean robust and happy plants. Regularly add a compost or soil conditioner to top up the ‘good’ microorganisms and bacteria in the soil, as they are responsible for improving the soil structure, drainage and breaking down fertiliser etc into a substance that is even easier for your plants to use.

5. Spot the Difference

Nutrient deficiencies in plants can often present themselves in a way that looks like possible insect or fungal damage. For example, magnesium deficiency causes yellowing leaves, and blossom end rot in tomatoes causes large brown spot that could be mistaken for disease, but is caused by a lack of calcium as the fruit develops. In these cases, spraying with a broad spectrum pesticide or fungicide won’t resolve the problem. If you’re unsure what’s got your plant unsettled, the easiest way is to bring a small sample into Flower Power – one of our horticulturists will take a look at it for you and be able to recommend what your plant needs to recover.