Dead Lavender and Pests in Soil
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Michele Lamb
Posted on: August 5, 1999

I am so upset about my lavender. I started it from seed last year. Not an easy task! This spring I had 20 beautiful healthy plants. Then they started to die one by one. I only have one left. I finally sprayed the last plant with a systemic pest control. This did the trick but I did not like using a pesticide. Yesterday I went out and my sage is doing the same thing. Do you know what kind of pest may be destroying my lavender and sage? Are there any organic methods to control pests on these plants? Thr strangest thing is that there was no evidence of bugs on the leaves. No spots or foam or yellowing or webs. So I can only assume that the bug was in the soil.

It certainly sounds like some soil pest is doing the killing. If there are faint glistening threads found here and there, it could be slugs and they would only do their destructive feeding at night. For them buy copper strips at least 5 centimeters tall (10 is better) and wrap it around the area you need to protect or the stems you have to protect. Slugs and snails won’t want to cross them, because copper reacts with their slime and gives them a nasty reaction.

If you see no such evidence, get some predatory nematodes (sold at Richters as "Scanmask" catalogue #T2600. To apply, suspend in water, remove any mulch, water copiously, then water in the suspension (1 pack covers 20 square meters or 200 square feet), replace mulch and say goodbye to any bug that pupates in the soil. Keep the soil moist though and do your application at night to prevent drying out of the emerging nematodes.

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