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What’s Eating my Geraniums? (Australian Guide)

Although these plants are hardy and don’t demand too much attention, they can sometimes succumb to pests that you’ll have to identify and treat accordingly.

I consider geraniums some of the hardiest plants that you can grow in your garden.

They thrive in a wide variety of conditions and will grow and flower in full sun or even part shade. They are also one of the easiest plants to propagate.

However, although these plants are hardy and don’t demand too much attention, they can sometimes succumb to pests that you’ll have to identify and treat accordingly.

Here are some common insects and other pests that might be eating your geraniums.

Caterpillars

caterpillar | Plant care

If you notice holes in your geranium leaves, take a closer look to see if you can spot any caterpillars on your plants. These will happily chomp away on the geranium leaves and leave a mass of destruction in their wake.

The best and most environmentally-friendly way to deal with caterpillars is to remove them manually. For this, you’ll need to put on a pair of gardening gloves and get a bucket of warm, soapy water.

Remove the caterpillars from the plants, one by one and drop them into the bucket.

But, remember that caterpillars can turn into lovely butterflies or sometimes just moths.

If you don’t want to kill the caterpillars, my advice would be to relocate them to another spot in your garden that is well away from your prized geraniums.

Budworms

Geranium Problems | Plant care

If you notice holes in the flower buds of your geraniums, you will likely have an infestation of budworms. These are also caterpillars from two different types of moth species. 

These caterpillars bore into the fresh new buds of your geranium flowers and will eat them as they grow. One of the best ways to control these pests is to be vigilant and get them early before they do too much damage.

Remove any of the damaged flower buds and put them into a plastic bag to throw in the bin. This will stop the spread of the pest and keep the rest of the flowers protected.

You could also try a spray from Yates called Nature’s Way Caterpillar Killer. This is a fairly natural product based on a common bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis).

This bacteria poisons the caterpillars but does not harm any of the beneficial insects that visit your garden. 

Aphids

aphid | Plant care

If you notice damage to the young stems and flower buds of your geraniums, look for aphids. These sap-sucking insects are quite small and usually green and will congregate in large numbers on mostly young stems.

I usually just wipe them off when I’m wearing gardening gloves to remove them from the new stems. Or, you could blast them off with the hose to disperse them.

For larger infestations, you can spray your plants with an organic oil-based spray like eco oil or neem oil. Or, you could make your own white oil solution and spray your plants with this.

Just take care if you happen to also see ladybirds on your geraniums. Ladybirds are the natural predators of aphids and their nymphs will eat large numbers of aphids that would otherwise damage your plants.

If you are lucky enough to have some ladybirds who have found your garden, then just let nature take over to control the aphid pests for you.

Possums

ringtail possum | Plant care

If you go out into your garden in the morning and find that all of your geranium flower buds have been eaten overnight, it might be a possum who is finding your geranium particularly delectable.

Possums are voracious eaters and will eat any fruit and flowers that they can find in your garden. Unfortunately, if they can’t find any fruit to satisfy their appetites, they’ll start munching on the flower buds and flowers of your geranium plants.

There are a few ways that you can tackle this problem, but I prefer the first one that allows you to live in harmony with these native animals and still keep your garden intact.

Give the possums an easy food source

Possums are only eating your flowers because they can’t find any other food source. That’s where you come in. Set up a feeding platform away from your geraniums and place some cut-up fruit such as an apple, on this every evening.

Place solar lights around your geraniums

You could also try getting some brightly coloured solar lights and placing these around your geraniums. Try to get ones that change colour as these might deter the possums from this area.

Make up a spray using garlic and chilli

Most pests and garden visitors don’t really like strongly scented or tasting plants like garlic and chillies. Therefore, you could make up a spray by mincing together some garlic and chillies and mixing this with water to spray on your geraniums in the evening.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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