Weatherford Democrat

Parker County Master Gardeners

May 11, 2014

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Grasshopper relief

Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to pcmgaquestions@gmail.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.

Every year I buy wonderful flowers, and lose most of them to grasshoppers. What can I do?

Grasshoppers are voracious feeders that thrive in native grassland areas around Parker County. The nymphs hatch from late April to late June and feed on spring grasses. By mid June, they develop wings and travel in search of fresh food sources, which will bring them to your fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and irrigated landscapes.

While you cannot eliminate the insects, you can minimize the destruction. Begin by eliminating tall grass and weeds around your plants. This makes the area less attractive to grasshoppers and allows both wild and domesticated birds to prey on the pests. Plant flowers such as calendula, sunflower, daisy, alyssum, or dill nearby to attract beneficial insects that attack grasshoppers. 

Geotextile fabrics are successful when used as floating row covers to protect home garden crops. These fabrics let in air and light while keeping out grasshoppers and other insects. The fabric can also be used to protect valuable landscape plants; but during heavy infestations, grasshoppers may to chew through the fabric.

Another option is to select plants that grasshoppers find undesirable.  The Master Gardeners have spent some time compiling a list for you.

Trees and Shrubs: American beautyberry,Texas barbary, bridal wreath spirea, burning bush, coralberry, crape myrtle, desert willow, euonymous, flame acanthus, forsythia, juniper, nandina, vitex, and yaupon holly.

Perennials: Artemisia, confederate jasmine, lantana, mealy blue sage, Mexican bush sage, Mexican petunia, mondo grass, moss rose, passionvine, Russian sage, thrift, dianthus, penstemon, purslane, rock rose, salvia greggii, Turk’s cap, and verbena.

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