Eugenia ventenatii, better known as lily pily is an often used hedging plant, chosen for its vigorous growth and ability to grow tall quickly to screen out unpleasant views.
It has a lovely reddish tinge on the new growth and really bushy with a fine leaf to give a really dense hedge. A perfect solution - but over the past few years in the North Shore area it has fallen foul of psyllids and thrips - small sap sucking insects which leave lumps on leaves and distort the plant's growth.
After mating, the female insects insert yellow oval shaped egg into the edge of the new leaves. Small nymphs hatch from the eggs and move to the newly expanding leaves, where they feed and develop in the cup shaped pits which are formed by the plant’s response to the insects feeding. Excessive pit formation creates severely distorted or blistered leaves, leaving shoots to appear stunted. Nymphs produce excrement in the form of tiny white pellets, some of which collects on foliage and becomes blackened from sooty mould growth.
So what can be done to stop this damage to your hedge?
Firstly, the health of the plant plays a major role. Plants that are stressed and in poor condition due to lack of water or nutrients are far more susceptible to attack. Make sure that you are watering the plants regularly in summer and during dry times. We've had good feedback from our client Jackie who also uses Kiwicare's Insect Hit Granules applied to the soil every 2 - 3 months. We would also recommend feeding with sheep pellets or a liquid feed of Seasol.
Secondly, spraying with a systemic insectide spray such as Confidor, will kill the nymphs. Systemic sprays are chemicals that travel through the plant and remain in the plant tissue for a period of time. Do read the instructions carefully and remember to apply the second spray, 7 - 10 days after the first. Also, wait for a dry day. Studies have shown that focusing on spraying the underside of the leaves is more effective.
Good luck with your hedge care and if you need our help with treating a bad case of thrip & psyllid infestation, just give us a call on 021 549 161.