The Plan is Not Always in Your Hands

At the end of the summer, I dreamed up a magnificent plan to overwinter some annuals from clients’ cutting gardens to see how they would hold up, and maybe have some nice blooms in the winter.

I brought them inside. “Oh, how pretty they are! It really brings some life to this tiny apartment! These skylights will provide enough light, I’m sure of it!”

What I didn’t pay much attention to were the little critters that would come along with my plants. I know to gently wash plants for clients when their houseplants go inside for the winter. I know to provide a spray bottle of Neem Oil for them, should any aphids, mites, or mold start to arrive. However, these are my rescued plants for an experiment; and I don’t really need to go through all that trouble.. do I?


Yes, I do.

To begin with, I don’t have a very good track record of keeping indoor plants alive. I have kept a succulent happy thus far and that is about it. Usually I forget to water; or forget when I have last watered, and then overwater. The skylights do not produce the amount of light I think they will, and I do not wish to get a grow light that will inhibit my sleep.

I noticed some aphids on this ‘lighthouse purple’ salvia splendens the other day and reminded myself to pick some up next time I was near the store, or to ask Boss if I could steal a few spritzes from her bottle. I have neglected them for about a week, until someone else noticed them, and I embarrassingly said I was going to get to it.


My cat was the first to realize a secondary problem.


What the HECK!?


“Hello! Nice place you have here, great food!”


I assisted this caterpillar over to the aphids I have ignored, hoping it would make a very nice meal of them.

After about ten minutes, there were the same amount of aphids and the caterpillar had moved itself to another area of the flower. This is when I noticed some chomped leaves and caterpillar poop. Sigh. I have asked my entomologist friend to give me an ID for this caterpillar. I am fairly certain I have seen similar ones eating geranium blossoms. The caterpillars eating the red geraniums had turned red themselves; but their bodies are almost identical to this green guy.

I really hate killing caterpillars. I’m not sure that I will just yet. Maybe this one will hide itself very nicely, so that I forget about it, and blame the plant dying on myself.

I have also learned from this experience that bugs like this can hide their larva in the soil. Since I have had these plants in my house for about a month already, and not noticed the caterpillar, it most likely was a baby hiding out in the soil. They get large rather quickly, especially when there are some great things to eat! This is why with clients’ plants I always gently wash the foliage and, once they have dried, give them a spray of neem oil. This will help to prevent anything living in the soil from thriving, including bugs and mold.

The more you know!

It is a gorgeous day today aside from it being very chilly. Time to don my seven layers and head outside! Happy gardening!

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