Advice for dealing with garden pests and diseases


Richard JacksonI love my gardening but I don't get enough time to do it, so the plants in my garden have got to grow themselves and be resistant to pests and diseases.

Coping with plant diseases

Try and buy disease-resistant plants. For instance, older varieties of roses are susceptible to mildew and black spot, while new generations of roses are virtually entirely resistant to those diseases – so grow these instead!

Tackling garden pests

The key to keeping pest numbers under control is to encourage wildlife into your garden. You're letting nature do the work for you, plus it's a healthier and more balanced way of gardening.

  • Put up bird feeders. In summer the birds forage for greenfly and blackfly, and come winter time they'll eat the caterpillars. Plus, birds bring entertainment and activity to your garden.
  • Grow poached egg plants. This plant produces wonderful wide flowers that attract insects called hoverflies, which are aggressive predators. In its lavae stage, one hoverfly will eat up to 400 greenfly a day. Also, encourage ladybirds into your garden with plants such as yarrow. Together, hoverflies and ladybirds will keep greenfly and blackfly under control.
  • To get rid of slugs, encourage hedgehogs. You can attract these prickly creatures into you garden by creating places where they can shelter, either with special houses or using stumps of logs and branches. If you have a pond, frogs and toads will also keep slugs at bay.

So rather than using pesticides, get nature to do lots of the jobs for you!


  1. Sheila Turley July 31, 2008 at 3:54 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    We remember your Grassroots gardening programmes for Meridian TV, which we enjoyed very much.
    Our Horticultural Society is 100 years old this year, and we are having a week of celebratory events which include the whole community.
    We are holding the 100th Horticultural Show on Saturday 6th Sept 2008, and we were wondering if you attended such events. We are looking for a gardening personality to open the show(2pm) and give out prizes(4.30pm) if willing!
    We are just outside Sevenoaks in Kent.
    It would be lovely to hear from you..and even lovelier if you could do this for us!!
    with best wishes,
    Sheila Turley

  2. Mavis Allan August 18, 2008 at 11:57 pm -  Reply

    I have actively encouraged birds into my garden for the last 10 years by leaving feeders and water out and by growing plants which attract ‘good’ insects. As a result I have far fewer pests and diseases attacking the plants and the bonus is I get to watch the fascinating daily lives of birds and insects in the garden. The different habits and behavour of birds in particular is amazing – its like watching natures version of a soap opera!

  3. Tricia Murphy October 26, 2008 at 5:45 pm -  Reply

    Thank you for the stunning displays that I have enjoyed from my pots of impatiens, bought from QVC. Please, can you remind me how you look after them over the winter? I remember you talking about this on the programme but have completely forgotten what you said.
    Many thanks.
    Tricia Murphy

  4. jane e hands February 8, 2009 at 6:54 pm -  Reply

    dear richard
    help,just done some weeding and found red(lily) beetle in my lily bed,so i expect i have lost the lot and only ordered five new ones from you(qvc)this week,have looked up on the web and the recomendation is BIO PROVADO ULTIMATE BUG KILLER,do you agree
    what else do you suggest,i love my lilies they have been in the same bed for ten years and have(had)become magnificent
    i am totally lost without my late dad’s gardening mind
    love jane

  5. Sabrina March 4, 2009 at 9:20 am -  Reply

    I have been bringing on the begonia corms and they have begun to “sprout”. Unfortunately they seem to have small white spiders crawling over them. Help!!I’ve never seen anything like this before. Have the corms arrived infected ? Do I throw them away or what?

  6. john anderson March 9, 2009 at 9:59 am -  Reply

    could you please tell me when richard will be selling
    tomatoes on grafted root stock please

  7. helen hamilton March 26, 2009 at 5:01 pm -  Reply

    how do you get rid of the red bugs on lillies

  8. Sue McGuire March 31, 2009 at 8:34 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard, I have a property in Spain and I am pestered by a lot of flies (bluebottle type). Are there any flowers/plants I can grow to deter them or keep them at bay? Regards, Sue.

  9. Lorraine Watson April 10, 2009 at 3:42 pm -  Reply

    Can you tell me if the plant coleus scaredy cat really works please

  10. Ann and Simon Weeks April 12, 2009 at 1:09 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard, we’ve been plagued by Horse Tail, we’ve tried digging, pulling and various weed killers and stil it comes up, can you please advise us as it’s taking over our garden. thanks

  11. Name Jenny Shepherd May 19, 2009 at 6:45 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard I have a Lonicera Japonica which is losing its leaves they are going yellow and dropping off, they seem to have a white film on the leaves it is a young plant only put in last season as not flowered yet, what is the best treatment

  12. Janice Wright May 22, 2009 at 9:39 am -  Reply

    Hello again Richard
    We met at Kew Gardens, and you kindly let me try some of the plant invigorator. I promised I would let you know my results.
    As I told you I had a plague of greenfly attacking everything from the pansies to the primroses to the lovely purple tulips and even the hydrangea.
    I used the whole bottle of the plant invigorator and my plants are looking really healthy again.
    Let’s hope the little blighters have gotten the message.

  13. Sharon May 30, 2009 at 1:23 am -  Reply

    Hello Richard, i am having trouble with a brown fly exactly the same as the green variety only in colour and it loves my hyderangea. I want to use a safe insecticide as i do want to cause harm to birds etc. You have one which is only available with two other products which i already have so is it possible to buy this item on its own. Thankyou for reading this, Sharon, Co.Antrim

  14. Stewart caswell June 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm -  Reply

    Hi I was wanting advice on how to get rid of lily beatles. I have just found my lilies with holes in the leaves and then I found the red and black criters everywhere. I need your help Richard.

  15. mrs patricia mcdonald June 2, 2009 at 10:07 am -  Reply

    help my lillies are being attacked with these little re bug like red lady birds and they eat the leaves and are leaving thrs black gunge blobs on the stems they are in bud to flower but they look horrible what pestiside wpild be suited for this, i also have pets that use the gardenso please recommend me what to use. thankyou.mrs patricia mcdonald.

  16. Karen Grande June 3, 2009 at 1:10 am -  Reply

    I have a Peach Tree, unfortunately there is something eating the leaves of the tree. I cant see what is doing the damage, I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to treat this tree as I bought it from one of your shows in memory of my dog.

  17. roberta June 5, 2009 at 9:43 pm -  Reply

    hi Richard.
    I have green fly on the leaves of my cherry tree. and on 2 of my apple trees I have a white sticky mess, looks like cotton wool. I have been spraying with washing up liquid. what can I do while I am waiting for birds to clear them up? please help.

  18. Sharon June 17, 2009 at 12:41 am -  Reply

    Hello Richard
    I purchased both a peach tree and a 3-variety apple tree from QVC earlier this year. The peach tree is doing really well but the apple tree is very poorly. The leaves have wilted, going yellow and brown and the small hip like fruits feel soft & hollow. We had a very hot spell, which lasted several days and wondered could it be due to the extreme heat, scorching sun and lack of water? We have had lots of rain since but the apple tree has not picked up at all.
    Thank you

  19. LINDA RAMM June 24, 2009 at 5:56 pm -  Reply

    hi have the same problem with my lillys thay have the red beatle i can not seem to get rid of it be greatfull for avice thank you linda

  20. Jane Rolf July 21, 2009 at 10:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    I bought the TSV stawberries and tower, they have all got mildew, they are elevated and have a good air flow, I have spryed with anti mildew and removed affected leaves. The fruit is all affected and I doubt wheter I will have any to eat. Advice please.
    Thank you

  21. charles james July 22, 2009 at 7:52 pm -  Reply

    reference red lily beetles, the only way to kill them is to squash them, i have tryed sprays which do not work,i have found this year they do detroy the leaves but the flowers still come out.keep sharp look out june july when they breed, morning and evening, yours c james

  22. charles james July 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm -  Reply

    reference my last on red lily beetles, that black blobs you see is in fact the eggs and must be removed from the plants, killed a few more tonight, yours c james

  23. Val Brown July 27, 2009 at 7:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    my lilies have white spots on the leaves, the outer edge of the spot then turns brown and eventually spreads to the whole leave and the whole lily. What is this and how do I stop it?
    Many thanks Val Brown

  24. pauline taylor July 31, 2009 at 12:04 am -  Reply

    hi richard
    i bought the bear root gerainiums which you said was ground covering and would kill the weeds but i have found that these flowers are very leggy and long and we have loads of chick weed which we do not seem able to get rid of please help.

  25. pauline taylor July 31, 2009 at 12:07 am -  Reply

    sorry Richard i bought thr tree lilies this year and only one of these have grown but unfortunatly that has been eaten and none of the other ones have grown can you please tell me what can be done

  26. mark laycock November 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm -  Reply

    hi,richard how can i kill or control canck on my bushes.

  27. Josephine Symington March 21, 2010 at 11:28 am -  Reply

    Dear Mr Jackson
    I moved into my present house two years ago. I have a eucalyptus tree at the bottom of my garden which has now developed a large crack about an inch wide down the length of the trunk. I reckon the tree may be about thirty years old. Advice please. Have clay soil here in South Lanarkshire.
    Mrs J Symington

  28. ian keith May 29, 2010 at 10:12 am -  Reply

    what can i do about grey squirrels that are running amock in my garden.somebody told me to hang chillies if true can you explain how to go about it.thank you

  29. sheila June 26, 2010 at 7:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    I have your lovely tree lillies but this is the second
    year and i have noticed some black stuff on them and they are not
    doing very well because it is eating away at them have you got anything that i can do to stop this happening please thank you.

  30. sue smith June 28, 2010 at 1:03 pm -  Reply

    hi richard how do i get rid of red bugs on my lilies i dont want the diamond ones ruined have tried arose and flower spray did not work they flower but leaves are destroyed thanks sue

  31. suzanne August 13, 2010 at 6:24 pm -  Reply

    hi richard can you tell me if you sell any mole repellers i have one making a mess all over the garden or can you suggest anything i dont want to kill it just move it on to neighbours lol x

  32. Nancy Smith March 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard I have little flying migets flying around my pond what can I use or what plants can I put aound my pond,it is up about 2feet of the ground
    or has any one else got any ideals I have sprayed them with your insect spray
    thank you
    Nancy Smith

  33. Anne Mealing April 6, 2011 at 12:35 am -  Reply

    Are there any plants that vine weevil larvae do not like? I took 64 larvae out of an 8″ pot of lily bulblets and fed them to the resident robin. Most of my pots seem to attract the vine weevils. My begonias were attacked last year anf they just love polyanthus.

  34. Jenny April 10, 2011 at 8:27 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard, Just taken my begonia corms out from overwintering in a cardboard box with shredded paper stored in my conservatory to find 3 hand gone soft, on investigation they were powdery and found a grub or 2 inside. What would have caused this & how do i try to prevent it happpening again

  35. Lynn Henthorn April 19, 2011 at 11:14 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    I have just found scarlet lily beetle on the beautiful lillies I bought last year, this is the first time that I have ever seen this pest. I have ordered your plant invigorator, but having read more about this nasty pest am not sure if this will control it. Any suggestions?

  36. Mrs. Marilyn Bradley May 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    I have bought quite a few plants over the years but our problem is my husband purchased a Twisted Hazel a few years ago from a garden centre. This year he has found the bark completely covered with brown bugs that look like blisters on the branches, but we don’t know what they are or how to get rid of them, also the leaves have gone very glossy.

  37. Foxyjulie June 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm -  Reply

    Dear Richard ive only just started gardening and i bought a mini orchard, pear,plum apple and cherry, the leaves on my trees have gone curly and look crispy also my cherry tree dosent seem to be doing anything can you tell me what to use and what is causing it, i already use flower power many thanks julie

  38. Andrea Antoniou June 19, 2011 at 11:28 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    Could you tell me a good way to get rid of bindwed that is taking over my garden with out harming my other plants in my garden? Thanx

  39. Inderjeet Khokhar June 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard, I have recently moved house and have a huge 120ft garden. The previous owner had maintained it well. There are lots of bushes/flowers/plants/three fruit trees. I started gardening watching your shows. I love gardening. I really want to do something to this garden but not sure what to do or how I would lay it out. I am needing a lot of help. Can you please help?

  40. June Byrne July 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm -  Reply

    Hello Richard
    Flower Power is wonderful and I have had some fantastic rose’s, but black spot has now destroyed them all, what can I do about it please.
    Thank you
    June Byrne

  41. Mrs soo lay foo August 31, 2011 at 10:47 pm -  Reply

    hi richard
    I have bought 3 magnolia plants from qvc i have plant it in my garden it dont seem to grow much and the leave got brownish and dark spots and with many hole i have try to spray housefly pestiside but it dont seem to work ,what can i do about it please
    Thank you

  42. Rosemary Veall September 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    What is the problem with busy lizzies this year. All of my plants (in hanging baskets and planters) look like they have been eaten; the leaves are missing leaving behind bare stems and even these eventually disappear. As I plant up 22 hanging baskets and 6 wall baskets each year, this disease has wiped out my displays almost entirely.

  43. Diane Barnes February 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm -  Reply

    Help I had a new lawn last year took a whole year to make as the garden I moved to was a mess,but at the end of the summer my lawn looks like a mud patch because of worm castings,how can I get rid ,my grandchildren cannot play again this year Please help

  44. Jill April 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard my local garden centre tells me they have no standard roses due to disease. Is this true?

  45. janet greenslade May 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm -  Reply

    help with my red lille beetie please

  46. Mavis Fields May 15, 2012 at 11:01 am -  Reply

    Please,Please Richard is there a cure to get rid of Lilly Beetle other than BIG GAME HUNTING and treading on them?????????All the beautiful lilies I have bought from QVC have gone by this pest.I still see them on your programs,but there is no mention of preventing lily beetle,so I am reluctant to start again with them.They are my favorite flower.Please HELP.MAVIS F.

  47. Natty May 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm -  Reply

    Please Richard can you help me. My dwarf apple tree is planted in a large pot and is not doing too well The leaves are getting rust coloured spots on them. How can I treat this?

  48. miss bernadette appleyard May 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm -  Reply

    hi richard my lillies are being eatern by red lilliy bug what can i do please help please

  49. Christine Wall September 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard can you help.We planted a bramley apple tree and have had 2 years of fruit on it,This year it flowered then the leaves had brown patches and there was only one very sick looking little apple on it.The younger leaves are very curled .can you please give me some advice?
    Christine (a very amature gardener)

  50. Mr Roger Bogaert May 6, 2013 at 11:08 pm -  Reply

    Hello Richard,
    I purchased a miniature apple tree 2 years ago, last years some kind of mildue like stuff got on some of the leave and the tiny apples, they eventually fell off.
    This year this king of mildue is back what i can do to stop loosing the fruits again

  51. david ramsbottom March 17, 2014 at 11:42 am -  Reply

    hi Richard please can you tell me how to get rid of moss in my garden lawn

  52. Dorothy pate March 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard. I have something digging up my lawn and killing the grass,it is something in the soil. I have fed my lawn this year with Lawn magic hoping it would help, but it hasn’t. Soon I am not going to have a lawn if I don’t do anything about it. Many thanks.

  53. julie Hutson May 5, 2014 at 9:59 am -  Reply

    Dear Mr Jackson,i have got a big problem with cranefly larve (leather jackets) they have devistated my lawn,do you know ov anything that will get rid ov them please, i have been on the web and there doesn’t seem much available would you be so kind to advise me please.
    Many thanks julie.

  54. Wendy Blackwell July 17, 2016 at 3:15 pm -  Reply

    HI Richard how would you treat leaf curl on a plum tree

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