Real World Gardener Citrus Pest Watch in Plant Doctor

November 24th, 2017


Citrus Pest Watch

Hopefully you’ve finished your spring cleaning but now it’s time to check out that citrus tree you’ve got in your backyard.

Our plants put on lots of fast growth in the garden but so do the bugs good and bad.


Being pro-active is the best way to beat the pests that seem to plague citrus more than any other plant in the garden.  

Some gardeners do this by spraying their citrus over the winter months with horticultural oil.

For a lot of insect pests, sprays are effective if you’ve timed it correctly, because as the pests mature or evolve into the next stage, sprays may become ineffective.


Let’s find out what to look out for. I'm talking with was Steve Falcioni from


PLAY Citrus Pest Watch_15th November 2017


Two types of pests to watch out for and for some states, the extra pest of fruit fly.

Group 1 is the sap suckers which include aphids, mites, mealybugs and the citrus stink bug.

The best time to hit these pests in Spring, particularly the citrus stink bug. The reason being that coming out of winter, the juveniles are small, pale green and susceptible to the oil sprays such as Eco Oil.


Citrus pests photo M Cannon

Group 2 are the chewing pests. such as citrus leaf miner and caterpillars. The leaf miner pest is actually a very small moth that lays its eggs on new leaf growth.

The hatching larvae then tunnel into the tissue causing the leaf disfigurement or curling and the silver trails.

Leaf miner can be organically controlled with pheremone traps that are hung in the trees.

As for the caterpillars, a lot of the will turn into beautiful butterflies, so decide what you would rather; a few chewed leaves or some orchard swallowtail butterflies?

If you have any questions about citrus pests either for me or


Steve, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Beat the Lily Caterpillar in Plant Doctor

October 19th, 2017


Lily Caterpillar

Lily%2Bcaterpillar%2Band%2Bdamage.jpgThe secret to controlling pests in the garden is to understand their life cycle, and watch for early signs of infestation so they can be stopped in their tracks before they become a problem.

The first sign of infestation this next plant pest is the skeletonising of leaves. 

In the adult stage the parent (lily moth) lays up to 100 eggs at a time on the tip of a leaf, and the growing (pest) caterpillars then work their way down to the base of the plant.

These voracious pests ( caterpillars) can destroy a clump of clivias or other lilies in record time.

Lily caterpillars are a native pest common along the east coast of Australia but can be seen in other regions. Generally a dark grey to black colour with yellow and white markings down the side.; about 5 cm long.


The adult moth is like your average brown moth with a wing span of around 5 cm and can lay up to 100 eggs at a time.

Let’s find out all about this pest.

I'm talking withSteve Falcioni, general manager of

PLAY : Lily Caterpillar_11th October_2017

The Lily caterpillar attacks clivea, crinums, hippeastrums, the spider lily (hymenocallis) and other plants in the lily family.

Young caterpillars skeletonise leaves while older ones can strip leaves or attack the crown of the plant. Clivia_miniata2.jpg

Very quickly plants are an ugly mess of caterpillars, droppings and collapsing plant foliage. Attacked foliage dies and leaves the plants looking very unsightly.

Lily Caterpillar, calagramma picta, pupate under mulch and then travel up the stems of many types of lilies, munching as they go - eating leaves, stems and flower buds.

Caterpillars pupate in leaf litter or the soil before emerging as adult moths to start the cycle again. There are several generations a year with the most damage noticed during the warmer months.

Look for the caterpillars on the underside as well as the tops of the leaves.

Damage caused by the lily caterpillar is severe and can result in plant death.

Plants which survive usually take a long time to recover.

If you have any questions about growing your own turmeric, then why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener NEW Tomato Pest in Plant Doctor

September 29th, 2017


New Pest: Tomato-potato psyllid

A new pest that could be coming to your garden soon is not something we gardeners would be glad to hear about.

But it has been detected in Australia and New Zealand so it’s something we need to be on the lookout for because it seems to combine the damage of a couple of pests.




Worse than that, it attacks plants from the Solanaceae family, like tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes, and even some plants in the Lamiaceae like Catmint.


Let’s find out all about it….

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, general manager of


PLAY : Tomato_potato psyllid_20th September_2017

This new pest is something to watch out for and possibly a good time to take a hand lens with you out into the garden to have a closer look at the pests. 

The distinctive dame is when you see leaves that have curled up from the edge.

There is other damage as well that is similar to aphid and mite damage combined.

What does it look like?

The adults are 2-3mm in length or aphid size.

The main body is grey with some white markings. Click on the link below to see a photo.

Tomato-potato psyllid

The important distinction is the clear wings which sit at 45 degrees, almost like a mini cicadas wings or the peak of a house.

If you have any questions about this new pest; the tomato-potato psyllid, then why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Where Do Insects Go in Winter in Plant Doctor?

August 24th, 2017



Overwintering Insects-where do they all go?

Have you ever thought what happens to insects in winter?

In particular insect pests, we don’t see as many pests but come Spring, they seem to emerge in their hundreds from somewhere.

How are they managing to hang on, especially in those districts where temperatures fall below zero.

You’ll be surprised to find out the methods that insects use .

So let’s find out.

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from


PLAY: Overwintering insects_9th August 2017

Insects seem to manage to hang on in one form or and how they do this seems to vary quite a bit because they’re so adaptive


Codling moth larvae

Lay eggs that stay dormant until warmer weather and longer daylength occurs.Some of the methods we talked about that insects use to get by in the colder months were:

  1. Juvenile stages hide in cracks of branches, twists of leaves, under rocks and find crevices to stay warm.

3.Pupate over winter like the Codling Moth.

  1. Go deeper into the soil to stay warm, like the Curl Grub.

5.Hibernate over winter just as the ladybird does.


Did you know ladybirds go off a pheremone to signal other ladybirds to form a huddle when hibernating?


TIP: Removing weeds during winter also removes hiding spots for pests like mealybug and aphids.

Did you know that the shorter daylight lengths of Autumn trigger insects to enter something called diapause.


What’s that?

Well, diapause (and also the definition of an evening spent watching TV) is "an inactive state of arrested development."

Diapause insects sees their metabolic rate drop to one tenth of what it is normally so it can use stored body fat to survive winter.


If you have any questions about insects, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Indoor Plants Pests and General Care in Design Elements

August 10th, 2017


Indoor Plants: Care and Maintenance

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about what plants you can grow indoors wherever you live in Australia.

Quite a few in fact can cope with all weather conditions for the far north of Australia to Tasmania.

Despite all your loving attention though, some plants can be susceptible to pest attack, or just like plain unhealthy, making you think you did something wrong.



Bad case of scale photo M Cannon

Not necessarily true, so let’s find out about looking after indoor plants

That was Julia Levitt Director of

PLAY: Indoor plants-pests_2nd August 2017


Even the best plant owner will come across pests.

  • If your plant is showing signs of:

o   Wilting

o   Loosing it’s leaves prematurely

o   Leaves turning yellow and patchy

o   Leaves have a black dusty look or are sticky

  • Look for one of these pests as they could be causing the aggravation: Fungus Gnats, Whiteflies, Mealy Bug, Aphids, Spider Mites, Scale and Thrips. 

The trick is to keep an eye on your plants and act quickly as soon as you see something wrong with your indoor plant.

Why are we having plants indoors again?

Apart from plants reducing carbon dioxide levels in your home, did you know that people with plants in their homes have less stress, and plants have been known to contribute to lower blood pressure? 


Real World Gardener Which Fertiliser to Use in Plant Doctor

May 10th, 2017


Fertilisers explained-granular or liquid, seaweed or organic, which is it to be?
How well do you know your fertilisers

There are two basic groups of fertilisers, solids or granular which are generally more slow acting, and liquids which are fast acting.

Whether you add organic matter or fertiliser to your soil, you provide your plants with three basic building blocks.



Controlled release fertiliser and Blood 'n Bone 


These are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, often referred to by their chemical symbols of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus) and K (potassium or potash).

Packaged fertilisers list the amounts of NPK each product contains, often showing it in a ratio format, called the NPK ratio.

But which ones should you use?


Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Steve Falcioni General Manager from


What to Watch Out For?

For gardeners in cooler climates, the winter period will see plant growth and microbial activity in the soil slow down.

What are the implications?

Nutrient uptake by plants is minimal if you're still using granular or solid type of fertilisers at this time.

The reason?

1-HOM_5247.JPGBulky fertilisers need to be converted into a useable form before plant roots can take them up. So, if microbial activity, which does this conversion has slowed down to a crawl, so will this conversion and that leads to slow nutrient uptake.

Rock dust is the slowest of all to break down taking up to 6 months or more, depending on when you apply it.

The way plants use nutrients is quite complex and varies from plant to plant. 

Some need lots of one nutrient but little of another, while others need a balanced amount of each. Understanding which nutrient does what gives you a rough guide to selecting the right fertiliser for your plants and garden.

That's why some fertilisers are labeled Citrus and Fruit, or Flower and Fruit, or Azaleas and Camellias. They are specific to those plants.

Seaweed extracts don't have enough nutrients in them to be classed as fertilisers, but they are plant tonics because they increase root growth and stimulate plant cell walls to strengthen.

If you have any questions about fertilisers or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.


Real World Gardener 28th January Citrus Gall Wasp in Plant Doctor

March 24th, 2017


Pests of Citrus-Citrus Gall Wasp

If you though that all you had to contend with on Citrus, was the curling, silvery leaves, the Bronze-Orange stink bugs, the citrus scale on the trunk, then think again, because there's at least one more.


Citrus Gall Wasp-image Dept. of Ag. W.A.

This is a native pest of all citrus, which does include native citrus trees like finger limes, and now is the time when you can notice the damage that this pest has done to your tree. As in a other citrus pests, the damage is done by a tiny moth, about 2-3mm that usually comes out late in the evening and then promptly dies after a very short time.

The damage starts of green and then over time, turns to a grey-brown coloured lump.

The lifecyle of the wasp larvae is quite long, from when the wasp stings the branch and lays its eggs to when the wasp emerges, is about one year.

Initially, you may not notice the bumps, but from Autumn onwards, they are becoming much more noticeable on the citrus trees.


Let’s find out what can be done about this problem

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager


Citrus Gall Wasp damage-image Dept. of Ag. W.A.



We certainly imported a few citrus pasts in the short time that white Australians have been here, but this pest is a native that mainly only attacked finger limes.

Originally only being found in Queensland and northern NSW, but with all the movement of plants from state to state, this pest can now be found as far south as Melbourne.

If you have any questions about Citrus Gall wasps, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener ZZ Plant is Plant of the Week

August 26th, 2016

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


Zamioculcus%2Bzamifolia.pngZanziber Gem: Zamioculcus zamifolia

 A popular houseplant which has been around for over a hundred years, but most wouldn’t have heard of it until 10 or 15 years ago.

Why it’s so popular is it’s perfectly suited to the black or brown thumb gardeners because it’s unbelievably tolerant of a wide range of conditions.

It’ll allow you to forget to water for months at a time;  put up with dark conditions that would make a Mother –in-laws Tongue plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) turn up its toes, they're okay with no humidity and are more or less pest-free.

Let’s find out more.

I'm talking with the plant panel:Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Zanzibar Gem is a herbaceous clumping plant growing to 45–60 cm tall, from a stout underground, succulent rhizome.


Zanzibar Gem

Pinnate leaves (arranged like a feather),  40 -6- cm long with 6-8 pairs of leaflets.

Leaves are smooth, leathery, shiny and dark green.

Overwatering is likely to kill the plant. Best to keep it on the dry side to prevent tuber rot.

So this is the  plant has been marketed as the plant to show to people who don't know what they're doing, who have never had plants before, who aren't home much, etc

Mind you some green thumbs have been known to kill it.






Real World Gardener Fixing winter rose Care part 2 in Plant Doctor

July 28th, 2016

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.

The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


For hundreds of years the rose has been widely recognized as a symbol of love, sympathy or sorrow, but did you know that the rose is not only England’s national flower but from 1986, America’s as well.

Few people dislike rose

Roses for your garden photo M. Cannon

s, especially receiving or giving bunches of them.

Not everyone likes or can grow them successfully, but us gardeners still like to try.

Here’s some timely tips.

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of

Roses need to be pruned if you want plenty of flowers because they flower on new growth.

Prune your roses mid winter or in August for those districts that receive late frosts.

Quick Pruning Guide


Hybrid Teas:

For example:Papa Meilland, Peace, Sir Donald Bradman.

Prune to half of the bush and leave 3-4 canes cutting older greying canes back to the base.

If you only have 3-4 canes then leave them and hopefully you'll have new vigorous growth.

Modern Bush Roses:

For example: David Austen.

Prune by one-third but don't cut out any old canes. They need to be left like a bush.

Climbing Roses.

You should have a framework of 3-4 main canes, from which come shorter canes.

Only prune these to about 3-4 buds, about 10 cm.

Note: All pruning cuts should be sloping and about 1 cm above an outward facing bud.

Bare Rooted Roses:

Old world roses photo M. Cannon

When you receive your bare rooted roses the two most important things that get your roses off to a great start are to make sure they're in the right growing conditions and to plant them properly.

Here’s something you mightn’t know.

We usually call the sharp spikes on the stem of a rose bush "thorns", but these are in fact technically prickles.

If you have any questions about rose care or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675



Real World Gardener Treat Those Camellia Pests in Plant Doctor

June 17th, 2016

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network. www.realworldgardener.comREALWORLD GARDENER NOW ON FACEBOOK

The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


1-camelia%2Bpink.jpgCamellias have a reputation for being hardy and thriving in neglected gardens.

For the most part this reputation is unsullied, but sometimes climatic factors or an insect event can lead to a pest or disease problem with your camellia plants.

What then?

Let’s find out what can go wrong in this 2 part series on pests and diseases of Camellias.


I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of

Scale insects that most commonly attack Camellia plants are brown scale, cotton cushiony scale and white wax scale.

Control is with eco Oil or Neem and depends on the temperature and the species.

Camellia japonica photo M. Cannon

In warmer climates the home gardener could have several generations of scale pests so control could be at any time.

However, for those in warm temperate and colder climates, control of scale is best done in the warmer months, from Spring onwards.

Other common pests are Camellia T-mite which is best known for the symptoms that look like a grey dusting or bronzing of the leaf. In other words loss of greenness.

Control is with the organic oil, eco Oil or Neem oil.

Mite damage on Camellias

Before your reach for a toxic chemical to fix the problem, be sure that you know what the problem really is.

Most non-organic insecticides cause a blanket kill effect (non selective) on all the insects, spiders and mites wiping out both good and target bugs.

After which there’s a bit of a hiatus when there’s no bugs and then the bad bugs come back first.

Using organic sprays is the best way to control large infestations and live with minor ones, because it’ll save you money in the long run.

If you have any questions about growing fruit trees or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


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