Root Aphids Crash Late-Winter Repotting Party

(Scott Shatrowsky) #1

Hey Jonas,

I had been repotting a number of succulents I propagated back in the Fall. When I started pulling some of the cuttings out I noticed that one by one, they all had a root aphid or similar infestation. It’s just about time to take all of my cuttings and specimen succulents outside with the remainder of my outdoor trees. What makes this even harder is I live in DC so my backyard is very compact. Segregating the infected is not necessarily an option.

Back in 2015 you had a great article where you tested about 6 different methods of treating root infestations. Any chance that data has been collected and shows which trees benefited the best from each approach?

(Jonas Dupuich) #2

The short answer is that all treatments appeared to work. As I didn’t repot the following year, I have no good data on how many root aphids were around at the end of that season. I’m repotting these trees now and have seen few root aphids.

Some other things that may have helped the trees ward off the infestation:

  • The pH of my water decreased from 8.8 to 6.4; this likely had a considerable effect on improving tree health.
  • I changed my watering and feeding habits halfway through the year to ensure the trees were getting adequate nutrients and water (short version: check the soil throughout the rootball to make sure the trees are getting adequate water, especially when colander growing).
  • My understanding is that that year root aphids were a significant plague in many parts of the country; I haven’t heard that they’ve been such a problem since.

What I do know is that the trees mostly recovered the following year, possibly due to some combination of the above factors. It’s a complex enough situation that it’s hard to say which change had which effect. My current approach remains trying to keep the trees as healthy as possible to prevent infestations in the first place.