The Q&A Archives: aphids on carnations

Question: I received a carnation plant last Mother's Day which did very well in the pot I transplanted it in. I brought it inside in the fall and it did fine for awhile, but then I noticed aphids on the plant. I used rubbing alcohol to treat the plant on 2 separate occasions (about a week and a half apart). When this didn't irradicate them completely, I sprayed the plant with soapy water. That was 3 weeks ago. Now I am beginning to see aphids again. What can I do to get rid of the aphids completely? I must add that I have been using Miracid as the fertilizer for this carnation.
Thanks for your help in this matter.

Answer: There are ways to stop aphids but they do need to be repeated several times about a week apart to catch adults and subsequent generations once and for all. You can wash the plant under a strong stream of tepid water (a kitchen sink sprayer might work for this) and literally knock off the aphids, or you can spray them with insecticidal soap according to the label instructions. Note that the soap only affects the aphids it contacts directly so you have to spray all parts of the plant to get a good control. Also, aphids tend to be attracted to plants which are growing very lushly, often due to an excess of nitrogen and sometimes that in combination with reduced light levels. I suspect that your carnation would prefer more light than it is getting in the house. One way to help slow the aphids would be to place the carnation in a very bright but also cool spot and cut back on the fertilizer. This will help slow the growth of the plant until you can condition it and plant it outside where it will receive the full sun it really prefers. Finally, most dianthus prefer a neutral to alkaline soil so it might be better to use another general purpose fertilizer since Miracid is intended for acid loving plants.

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