Insect Control
24 fl. oz. Ready-to-use

  • Insecticide, Miticide and Repellent
  • Ready-to-Use Formula
  • Kills and Repels Soft-Bodied Insects
  • For Houseplants and Outdoor Gardens
  • OMRI Listed® for Use in Organic Gardening
  • Pet-Friendly Insecticide
  • Bee Safe*
  • Safe for People, Pets & Planet*

*when used as directed 

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Earth's Ally Insect Control helps home gardeners control common garden pests, using an effective blend of rosemary, clove and peppermint oils that leave no harmful residues and can be used up until day of harvest. Use on vegetables, fruits, flowers, ornamentals, trees and shrubs. Treats and controls soft-bodied insects, including adult and nymph spider mites, whiteflies, aphids, thrips, mealy bugs, leaf rollers and scale insects.

How To Video

Natural Formula

  • Active Ingredients: Rosemary Oil, Clove Oil, Peppermint Oil (0.55%)
  • Inert Ingredients: Water, Glycerol Monooleate, Ethyl Lactate, Ascorbyl Palmitate (99.45%)
  • View the labels and SDS sheets here

The botanical oils in Earth's Ally Insect Control overstimulate and disrupt the pest’s nervous system, leading to paralysis. The oils block air from the pest spiracles, preventing them from breathing and causing suffocation on contact. Rosemary oil has strong repellent properties. Any insect not contacted by direct spray will quickly leave the treatment area. When used as a preventative treatment, the rosemary oil works synergistically with the plant to ward off insects.

Directions for Use

For Preventative Care

  • Shake the bottle well
  • Apply a fine mist to the stems and leaves, including the undersides
  • Thoroughly cover the plant until there is runoff
  • Spray outdoor plants early in the morning or evening to avoid the hottest part of the day
  • Do not apply in temperatures over 90°F
  • Spray every 7-10 days to keep plants healthy

For Infestations

  • Shake the bottle well
  • Apply a fine mist to the stems and leaves, including the undersides
  • Thoroughly cover the plant until there is runoff
  • Spray outdoor plants early in the morning or evening to avoid the hottest part of the day
  • Do not apply in temperatures over 90°F
  • Repeat this process every 5 days, as needed

Available Sizes

  • 24 fl. oz. ready-to-use
  • 32 fl. oz. concentrate (makes 5 gallons)


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24 fl. oz. Ready-to-use”
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

By Angelo Randaci

Summer harvest is around the corner, do not let bugs feast on your blooms and veggies before you do!

Although most insects that inhabit our garden do no harm to our plants, the ones that do can cause a significant amount of damage.  It is during the summer months that garden pests are most active, so be prepared to initiate both protection and control when needed.  

Choosing insect control methods should involve a combination of cultural and mechanical techniques along with minimal risk pest control products that are both safe and effective for pest prevention.  Cultural practices include good sanitation, removing infested plant material, proper watering, fertilizing, and choosing pest resistant plants whenever possible.  Mechanical methods could be as simple as using a spray of water to knock off aphids or hand-picking to remove unwanted caterpillars.  Insect control products that may harm birds, aquatic organisms, pollinators, pets, and people should be avoided.  Instead, use a reliable, organic product suitable for use in all your garden areas. 

Identifying the most annoying bugs that inhabit your plants is crucial in deciding on a control measure or even if one is needed.  Keep a sharp eye out for the insects listed below.  They are the most common pests found both indoors and out.

Identifying Garden Pests

Whiteflies – Whitefly infestations are prevalent during hot dry summers and on plants suffering from stress, especially water stress. Both adult and immature whiteflies feed on plants by sucking the sap from the foliage.  Damage occurs as yellowing of leaves that eventually shrivel and drop prematurely. They can transmit viruses from diseased to healthy plants through their feeding.

Aphids – Aphid populations rise along with warm weather.  They live on plants, especially on new plant growth and buds.  Damage occurs as misshapen, curling, stunted, or yellowing leaves. Their numbers multiply rapidly and they will infest both indoor and outdoor plants.

Scales – Scale insects are common pests of trees, shrubs, and other plants. The adults appear as little circular bumps in various colors (depending on the species) on stems and branches of plant hosts.  Damaged plants appear withered and sickly.  Leaves may turn yellow and drop prematurely. Because the adults are protected from insecticides by their hard coverings, control should be focused on the immature scales (crawlers) before they develop their protective covering.

Mealybugs – Mealybugs infest all plant parts, roots, stems, twigs, leaves, flowers and fruit.  Damaged plants may develop yellow leaves as well as premature leaf drop. Deformation is caused by the mealybugs injecting toxins into the plants while feeding. Most common places to look for them are undersides of leaves, stems, branches and in crevices between leaves and stems.

Sooty mold fungus - is caused by sap sucking insects such as whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs, and scale.  The mold grows from a sweet, sticky substance secreted by the plant-sucking insects called honeydew. This appears as a grimy, black soot on the branches and leaves.  While sooty mold does not infect the plants, it can indirectly damage the plant by coating the leaves to the point where photosynthesis is affected. Control this fungus by controlling the insect causing the damage.

Spider mites – Spider mite populations increase during midsummer dry spells and on stressed plants. Look out for feeding marks that appear as light dusting on the upper leaf surface.  Spider mites on plants inhabit the undersides of the leaves, but the damage is noticeable on the upper leaf surfaces. As feeding continues, leaves take on a dull appearance. When infestations are severe, webbing is visible on the plants. Mites are very small but can be seen with a hand lens. 

Thrips – Thrips are extremely active when temperatures are warm, feeding in large groups on many host plants including assorted garden vegetables and flowers.  Damage from thrips includes streaks, silvery speckling, and small white patches. 

Looking for more info? Read more about identifying common garden pests on the Earth’s Ally blog.

9 Essential Tips for Managing Pests

  1. Purchase a hand lens. Plant pests are often difficult to identify with the naked eye. A simple hand lens will help you identify garden pests and make informed decisions.  Choose one that delivers at least 10x magnification.
  2. Practice vigilance in looking for any plant problems. Early detection of pests is essential. Insect pests, such as whiteflies, are often brought into the garden through infested plants from a greenhouse or nursery.  Inspect all new purchases and keep them isolated from your other plants until you can give them a clean bill of health. Thrips, whiteflies, and aphids can transmit diseases as they travel from one plant to another.  Protecting your organic garden is important and using an Insect Control that leaves no harmful residues will keep your plants in good health.
  3. Identify the pest before taking any action to make sure you are not harming the beneficial insects.  If you identify beneficial insects on your plants, they are probably eating the bad ones. Control may not be necessary.  If you are unsure of the identity of an insect, collect it in a jar and take it to a local nursery or County Extension office for identification or purchase an insect field guide to help identify the insect.
  4. Yellow sticky traps are an inexpensive method used to monitor pest populations.  Sticky traps are simply a yellow paper coated with an adhesive. Insects are attracted to the yellow color and stick to the adhesive on the paper.  Sticky traps will attract aphids, leaf-miners, whiteflies, fungus gnats, moths, thrips, and other flying insects. They are used in greenhouses, gardens, orchards and indoors for houseplants to monitor pest populations.
  5. Ask yourself, “Is control necessary?”  If only a few leaves are damaged, you may not need any control.  Keep a sharp eye on the plant to see if control will be necessary in the future. When pests are visibly present, a control like Earth’s Ally Insect Control is beneficial to keep on hand for a quick knockdown on soft-bodied insects.
  6. Grow plants that repel insect pests. Lavender, chrysanthemums, nasturtiums, marigolds, and petunias are just a few plants known to discourage a variety of insects.  Plant these along with pest resistant herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, and lavender to help repel unwanted pests. 
  7. Keep your plants healthy. Develop a good quality soil for your plants to thrive. Keep them watered and fertilized to avoid plant stress.  Healthy plants are more likely to survive insect pests.
  8. Create a habitat to lure beneficial insects that will attack your garden pests.  Annuals like alyssum, cosmos, zinnias, sunflowers, and marigolds planted in harmony with perennial flowers and herbs such as yarrow, lavender, mint, fennel, angelica, and tansy will attract numerous beneficials.  Dill, parsley, cilantro, celery, and carrots are biennials.  Leave a few in the ground. They will flower the second season. They provide attractive food sources for a variety of beneficials and are colorful in the garden. Leave some in your vegetable garden to attract the pollinators to your veggies as well.
  9. Identify your caterpillars and provide host plants. If you want to have beautiful butterflies in your garden you must first have caterpillars.  While you don’t want tomato hornworms eating your tomato plants or cabbage loopers eating your cabbage, you do want to welcome other species such as monarchs and tiger swallowtails to your garden.  Consult a field guide to identify caterpillars, adults, and their preferred food. Some butterflies have specific larval food preferences (host plants).  A prime example is the monarch butterfly.  Adults only lay eggs on members of the milkweed family.  Plant milkweeds such as Asclepias Curassavica which will not only flower all summer for you but will encourage monarch butterflies to your garden for both larval food and nectar for the adults. Designate a portion of your yard for caterpillars if you have the space or incorporate larval host plants into your garden design.

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow healthy plants. Share your experience with the Insect Control formula and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Pest Prevention Tips for Summer’s Most Annoying Bugs
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

By Angelo Randaci

What is crabgrass and how did it get here?

Crabgrass seeds were brought to the United States from Europe by immigrants.  Early settlers grew the plants, harvesting the nutritious seeds as a grain.   In the mid-1800s, the US Patent Office introduced crabgrass seeds to grow on as animal forage during a time when livestock numbers were increasing, and good forage was needed. Crabgrass was planted as forage into the 1940s.  It eventually escaped cultivation, taking up residence in cultivated fields and disturbed locations throughout the United States.  There are at least 30 different species of crabgrass however, the most common types in North America are hairy crabgrass (Digitaria Sanguinalis), and smooth crabgrass (Digitaria Ischaemum).  Both species are similar, and control methods are the same.

Crabgrass is a very tough, persistent drought-tolerant weed. It flourishes in the toughest growing conditions. In lawns, it maintains a low profile and is adaptable to mowing heights.  Plants can produce seeds with mower blades set as low as ½ inch.  The plants hold up well to heavy foot traffic, even better than the toughest of lawn grasses.   Crabgrass is not only a problem in lawns.  It is a prolific grower in gardens, orchards, and waste places as well. Crabgrass can be a difficult weed to contend with but with a little understanding of their life cycle and identification features, control is possible.

Crabgrass Control and Identification: Seedlings, Habit and Control

It is important to identify crabgrass because control methods are different for the different species of weedy grasses.  Some are annuals like crabgrass, but others are perennials.  There are also differences in root structures as well as the habits and preferences of different grasses.  Misidentification can cause failure to control and even lead to the multiplication of unwanted weeds.

Life Cycle - The life cycle is a simple one. Crabgrass is an annual warm season grass.  Seeds germinate, the plant grows during warm months, and dies after a frost, all during the same year.  Before the plant dies, it produces seeds for next year.  Seeds are dormant for a short period during cold months and germinate when soil temperatures reach 55°F degrees or so.  Then the cycle begins again; seeds germinate, plant grows, sets seed for next year, then dies.  In tropical climates, it may grow as a perennial, flowering and setting seeds all year.  

Seedlings - When seedlings emerge, they resemble small corn plants. Crabgrass seedings have lime green colored broad leaves as opposed to the thinner, darker leaves of other grasses.  Because Crabgrass is a warm-season grass, seedlings emerge whenever soil temperatures in your area reach 55°F degrees or above.  A grass persisting through cold months will most likely be a perennial cool-season grass.  This is a good identifying feature if you live in areas receiving frosts because if you see plants in early spring that survived the winter, they will be a cool season grass and not crabgrass.  

Habit - Crabgrass habit is distinctive.  It has a prostrate habit, almost hugging the ground in a single clump. The stems radiate from a single root in the center of the plant, but roots develop at nodes along the prostrate stems. You will often see a reddish hue in the center of the clump.  Crabgrass stems do not have underground runners. If you pull the plant out of the soil and it has long-running underground stems, it is not crabgrass.  Crabgrass thrives in heat and is often found growing along the edges of lawn areas where soil meets the pavement or wherever the soil is warmest.  

Crabgrass Control

The most common question regarding crabgrass control: how to get rid of crabgrass? Controlling crabgrass involves removing the adult plants before they set seeds which can remain viable for years in the soil.

An effective crabgrass killer is hand pulling. If hand pulling, water the area first to soften the soil. Uproot crabgrass with a tool or hand pull. A claw type weeder works well.

Crabgrass seeds require ample sunlight for germination to occur.  Without adequate sunlight, the seeds will remain dormant.  If in a garden situation, practice no till methods to avoid bringing up crabgrass seeds to the surface.

For a safe alternative to glyphosate or other harsh herbicides, you can spot-treat crabgrass patches with a weed killer like Earth's Ally. It is formulated with sea salt, soap and vinegar. This solution is safe for use around children and pets.

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you tame troublesome weeds. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Why is Crabgrass Such a Pain?
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

Shade Loving Plants

Shade gardens are some of the most soothing comfortable places to spend a lazy afternoon. They are a respite from the summer heat, a quiet place for woodland creatures and a wonderful spot for meditation. But not all shade is alike. Shade comes in many shapes and styles. There is dense shade, full shade, light shade, and partial shade. There is shade created by shadows and shade created by a thick canopy.  Shade can be gloomy and dim or bright and enlivening. Understanding shade-producing factors will help with plant selection and over-all shade garden design.  A shady location is typically considered any area that receives less than 6 hours of full, direct sunlight.  There are several variables to consider when defining a shade area and shade loving plants as mentioned above.  First observe what is creating the shade: What are the sun-blocking structures; a building, a tree, many trees, tall shrubbery, fencing?  A garden next to a shade-creating building is different than a location underneath a tree. 

Next figure out how much shade is available.  Does the time of the year or time of day change the shaded area? What is the size and shape of the trees or shrubs creating the shade?  Your latitude is another variable: how far north or south is your location? The distance from the equator defines the intensity of the sun at various times of year.

While many plants are tolerant of shade, most plants that grow in shade benefit from bright light.  An hour or two of early morning sun and a splash of late afternoon setting sun can brush over most plants without harm. 

Shade gardens, like all gardens, start with a nutrient rich well-drained soil.  This is key to being successful with any garden.  All the plants mentioned here will benefit from amended soil.

6 Types of Garden Shade

  1. Dense Shade: The most challenging type of shade to successfully grow healthy plants is dense shade. Dense shady areas are defined as spaces that receive no direct sunlight and very little bright light. 
  2. Deep Shade: Deep shade is created from overhangs, dense canopy trees, tall shrubs, evergreens, buildings or walls.  If at all possible, these areas should be amended in order to create an environment where plants can thrive.  It may mean selectively pruning trees or shrubs to open up the canopy and allow more light to filter in. If your shade is caused by a dense canopy of trees, planting challenges exist below the ground as well.  Tree roots, especially from shallow rooted trees, such as maple trees, compete with your plants for moisture and nutrients.  Digging under trees is difficult and adding soil to make planting easier is only a temporary solution because tree roots will eventually penetrate the top layer of soil.  Instead of planting these difficult areas, consider installing garden art or carve out a seating area instead of plantings.  Plant along the outside edges of the trees where there is ample light and less root competition.  Add containerized plants to your composition and move them to brighter light when they become stressed.  If your dense shade comes from tall buildings, walls or fences, amending the soil or raising beds will allow you to grow plants that normally would not grow in a full shade garden.
  3. Tree Shade: The degree of shade varies among different species of trees.  For instance, the area under a linden tree would be considered dense shade whereas the area under a honey locust would be dappled shade (see below for description of dappled shade). 
  4. Full Shade: This type of shade is less demanding for plant selection than dense shade. Full shade plants need areas that are shady all day with very little if any direct sunlight but may receive some reflected light and more or less light during different seasons.  You can brighten these spaces for plants that grow in full shade by providing reflected light.  Use Light colored fences, pathways or other light-colored structures to bring light to these shady spaces.
  5. Light Shade or Dappled Shade: Light shade or dappled shade is defined as an area where there is shade, but some light is available at the same time. Many plants will grow in this type of light.  Plants for light shade areas may include a tree that provides a dappled shade underneath its canopy is the Thornless Honey Locust.  Its small leaves and open structure allow light to penetrate the canopy to provide a pleasant combination of light and shade. Woodland  plants such as ferns will thrive in dappled shade with moist soil.
  6. Part Shade: These areas receive direct sunlight, but only during predictable parts of the day.  There are two categories of part shade, morning shade, where areas are shaded in the early morning hours but receive sun in the afternoon and afternoon shade, in which there is sun in the morning but shade in the afternoon.  Many shade plants will thrive with morning sun and many sun loving plants with thrive with afternoon sun.

Plant Labels

Understanding plant labels is sometimes confusing where sun vs. shade tolerance is concerned.  A plant label might read “plant in shade” or “plant in part shade” but what part of the day? This is important when placing plants. If your garden area receives afternoon sun, you are basically looking at sun plants. If the area receives only morning sun then most shade plants will grow in that area.  So, if the plant tag recommends part shade or part sun conditions you can follow these guidelines:  If a label reads part sun to sun, this means it will grow and bloom with a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight.  Although these plants will tolerate some shade, they will achieve the best growth with lots of sun.  If a label reads part shade to shade, this indicates the plant prefers to grow in less than six hours of direct sunlight per day and grows best with morning sun. If a label reads sun or shade this plant will grow in any amount of sunlight.

Shade Garden Design Ideas

Assess your type of shade, dense shade, full shade, light or dappled shade, or part shade. In need of shade garden ideas? Make any changes such as thinning a tree canopy to allow more light penetration or adding trees to provide more shade.  Add heavy pieces of garden art while easy access to the area before putting in plant beds.

Consider how to get water to the garden.  Providing adequate water is often a challenge in shade because shady areas tend to be dry.  Even during a heavy rain, a good amount of the water is deflected from the canopy of trees or overhangs around buildings. 

Create curved garden beds.  Gentle curves add a calming effect.  The gentle sweep of a curve helps soften harsh lines and encourage movement through the garden. Use a hose to outline the curves to see where you want them before defining the beds.  

After the shape and location of the beds is decided, put in your garden paths.  Your garden path will create a sense of purpose and destination. You can use mulch, gravel, or visit your local stone yard to see the many types of stones that are available.  Keep in mind that while mulch is an inexpensive way to go, it will need refreshing every year or two. Irregular shaped stones will add to a natural look whereas square or round ones will look more formal. 

This is a golden opportunity to beautify a tired lawn area struggling from the shaded conditions. Keep a small area of turf but surround it with your shade garden plants.  If too much shade for turf, plant shade-loving groundcovers instead and create a pathway through them.

Add garden art.  Garden art creates a focal point and attracts attention to the garden.  Adding art to the garden will create contrast in texture and shape from the plants.  Use art to insert a splash of color to the garden.  A colorful container will increase color beyond the shades of green from your plants.  If you live in colder climates garden art will create winter interest while your plants are sleeping.

The backbone of your shade garden will come from foliage. Combine different leaf colors, shapes and sizes to create a colorful mosaic of texture and form.  Use plants with different textures by combining large bold-leaved plants such as hostas with finer textures such as gold-colored sedges, liriope and ferns.

Go with lots of light colors to brighten up the darker shaded areas. Use variegated selections of plants to add extra color.  Shade gardens are more about leaf color than flower color.

Plant shade-loving shrubs for dramatic color.  Hydrangeas are one of the most colorful shrubs for shade. They perform best when receiving morning sun with shade during the hottest part of the day.  Many varieties need ample moisture during the hot summer months to thrive. Other shrubs include azaleas, rhododendrons and viburnums, all worthy of a place in your shade garden.

Native plants adapted to woodland situations are maintenance free.  Once established, they will flourish in wooded areas.  Many of them will grow and bloom before deciduous trees leaf out, then go dormant during summer months.  Naturalize bulbs such as daffodils, snowdrops and crocus to grow among your wildflowers for an extra early spring show.  

If you have deer visiting your shade areas, choose plants from deer resistant plant lists.  Although no plants are completely deer resistant, there are many plants deer will avoid. 

Many vegetables will grow in partial shade. Leafy vegetables are the most shade tolerant.  Choose colorful varieties such as red leaf lettuce to plant in your shade vegetable garden to provide color as well as fresh additions to your meals.

Augment your garden with shade loving annuals such as impatiens, begonias and fuchsias. They will grow best in areas with 4-6 hours of shade with morning sun, east facing locations or dappled shade. Include caladiums to add vivid color and diversity of foliage.  

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow shade loving plants. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Keep It Cool with Shade Gardens
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

Creating the Right Planting Environment

“We lost too many plants in our impatience to possess them, because we had not achieved the proper growing conditions.”

-Beth Chatto, The Beth Chatto Handbook

Growing a plant labeled ‘easy care’ is not always easy. Unless given the right conditions, any plant can fail. When planted in locations favorable for their growth, the ‘easy care’ part becomes easier.   

One of the major solutions to gardening failures can be summed up with four words: right plant, right place.

The concept of “right plant, right place” simply implies plants will thrive best when planted in an environment most conducive to their growth.  Healthy plants grown in ideal conditions will be less labor intensive and less likely to succumb to disease, insect or environmental problems.  Here are some tips to help you place plants in their right place for optimal growth.

What to Plant and Plant Habitat

Find out how tall and wide a plant will be at maturity, so it won’t have to be moved if it outgrows its space.  A little research or advice from your garden center will help you choose a variety that will stay within your bounds. If there are aerial wires around your property you may want to choose dwarf or semi-dwarf trees and shrubs. When planting trees, don’t plant too close to a building because the roots and trunk can harm the foundation and will have to be removed at some point. Areas under windows require plants that will not block views.  The wrong selection of a ground cover can become an invasive nightmare, for instance a running-type of bamboo will send up shoots everywhere, whereas a clumping bamboo will stay in one place.  If tree space is limited choose a columnar variety that will grow tall and narrow or choose a dwarf growing variety.  There are plant selections to fit most any sized space in your yard.  

Planting Soil Conditions: Wet Soil, Dry Soil

An area that stays dry requires plants that thrive in various degrees of dry soil.  In this case, you are limited to succulents and other drought tolerant plants.  Likewise, if you have a wet area, you will need to select plants that thrive in wetter conditions.  If you don’t want to limit yourself to these conditions you can repair old, dry soils by adding organic matter, potting or construct raised beds to add healthy soil. A wet area may require adding drainage of some sort; a French drain, drainage pipes, or raising a plant bed to accommodate a well-drained soil.

Turf: Growing Grass

An emerald-green lawn in sun is beautiful but very high maintenance requiring regular watering and is often challenged by disease and pests.  Limit your turf area by removing it and putting in plant beds consisting of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs.  

An area in shade will require a shade tolerant turf.  Even a shade tolerant turf will show signs of stress against competition from tree roots or heavy foot traffic in low light.  The solution to this issue could also become a new design feature on your property.  Where there is foot traffic you can add attractive paving stones, bricks or other material. Areas under trees could become beautiful shade gardens. Plants in an area under tree roots will compete for nutrients and water.  If this is the case hang containers from the tree branches and put containerized plants around the base of the tree.

General Tips:

Know your USDA hardiness zone. Knowing your zone will dictate what plants will tolerate your climate conditions. Plants you purchase will have a zone or zone range listed on either their plant tag or website.  If your zone is equal to the zone listed for the plant, it will grow in your area if you follow its cultural requirements.

  • Choose plants that are tolerant of low water conditions once established.  
  • Whenever possible, choose varieties of your favorite plants that are disease and pest resistant.
  • Avoid monoculture.  Choose a diversity of plants that will bring color and interest all season.
  • Do not mix plants with different water requirements.
  • If irrigating, purchase drip irrigation and soaker hoses. This puts the water where you need it.
  • Mulch your plants to conserve moisture, keep roots cool in the summer and hold heat during winter months.
  • A yard with a slope will gather water at the base. Plant moisture-loving plants there and more drought tolerant plants near the middle and top of the slope.
  • Place plants prone to diseases such as powdery mildew in areas that receive plenty of air circulation.
  • Amend the soil for best results.  Recycle kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, lawn clippings and leaves to your compost pile.  If space is limited, purchase compost either in bags or in bulk and spread it on your garden. 

The right plant situation can change as your plants grow. Plants that were once in full sun will be subject to increasing shade as your landscape matures.  If your plants begin stretching for more sunlight or have weak growth and poor flowering, then it is time to change to shade-loving plants in that area.

Planting the right plant in the right place or creating an environment for the right plant will reward you with beautiful, lasting garden spaces.  Experiment with your spaces, a little experimentation will open the door to greater possibilities in plant selection. You may even discover a niche where a fussy plant will be perfectly happy.  Remember even the most limited landscape situations have solutions to help broaden your plant palette.  

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow healthy plants in the right place. Share your experience with our formulas and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Right Plant, Right Place
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

By Angelo Randaci

The Art of Plant Staking

Staking plants is an essential part of gardening. Nothing is more frustrating than to see a wave of vibrant blossoms at the peak of beauty fall over with broken stems or trampled blooms.  Without plant supports, many plants will fall over from unforeseen factors such as strong winds, rains, animal traffic or plant stress.  This can devastate your garden.

Staking plants simply means to support a plant by any number of methods. It’s the plants we want to see, not a slew of plant props. If plant stakes are the first thing you notice in your garden, then read on for ideas and tips on how to stake plants inconspicuously so the beauty of your plants shines through.

Types of Plant Support Stakes

Plant stakes fall into two basic categories: preventative and remedial.  Preventative staking is providing supports to plants before they fall over.  Remedial staking involves the repair of plants that have already flopped. 

  • Preventative Garden Stakes - Plants with large flowerheads will often fall over by their own weight or after heavy rains.  Double peonies are a good example of this. Other plants with tall or heavily flowered stems are prone to falling over as well.  Some examples are: delphiniums, foxgloves and hollyhocks. These flowering beauties will benefit from preventative measures before issues occur. Staking plants early, when they reach about half of their mature height, will provide support for the plant and allow the foliage to hide the stake as it grows.  
  • Remedial Garden Stakes - Remedial staking is more challenging because you are in repair mode.  Broken stems will need to be pruned out along with bent over flower heads.  It may be too late at this point to save the flower by staking it unless the stems have not broken.  When you do stake them, the plant supports will be more conspicuous. 

Plant Support Stakes Tips & Tricks

Regardless of methods,the key here is to stake your plants as inconspicuously as possible. Here are some tips on how to discreetly stake your plants.

The color of your garden stakes and ties is important. Paint the stake shades of green to match the foliage. Green Velcro ties are available that will work well with the added advantage that they can be adjusted as the plant grows.

Do not tie your plants too tightly. The plants naturally require movement from the wind to thicken the stems. Be sure your stakes are thick enough and tall enough to support your plants. The stake will need to go in at least 12”into the ground to hold your plants upright. Keep extra stakes on hand for remedial staking or to add to existing stakes to reinforce your plants.

Things you can do to avoid having to stake your plants:

  • Description automatically generated with low confidence">Develop a good garden soil with plenty of organic matter. This allows plants roots to grow deep and helps anchor them in the soil.
  • Use proper spacing for your plants. Plants planted too close may stretch for light and develop weak stems.
  • Pruning certain plants early in the season will keep them at a shorter height and make them bushier.
  • Practice “right plant right place.” Choose plants that will thrive in the conditions you have. Sun plants planted in too much shade will stretch and fall over from weak stems.  Shade plants may be stunted or even burned from too much sun. 
  • Some plants will fall over naturally, then turn upwards again interweaving between other plants and appear to travel around the garden. There is nothing wrong with this because it adds a natural element to the design.  

Garden Staking Methods

A simple inexpensive way to make plant stakes is torip fencing boards into 1/2” strips andcut them to desired lengths. Oftentimes you can use an existing support to attach ties to your plants. This could be a hook, nail, or pipe that is already on your house. Attach your plants to a wall using self-adhesive anchors. Anchors are available that do not harm the surface; attach plants to a nearby garden ornament or trellis if you can.

Use one stake to attach multiple stems. Drive a stake into the ground behind the plant or hidden in the middle; tie each stem to the stake separately like the spokes of a wheel. Chicken wire is one of the best methods of supporting plants like peony or Baptisia australis. Place a square of chicken wire over your peony plants when the shoots first emerge from the ground in the spring. As the stems grow, they will raise the chicken wire off the ground. The chicken wire becomes invisible when the plants mature and flower. Use flags or some type of marker to identify yet to emerge plantsso you don’t step on them until they become obvious; you can write the name of the plant on the flags as a marker. This also prevents you from accidently pulling out a plant thinking it is a weed. Why not use a decorative garden stake to add color, beauty and whimsy to your garden? Plant stakes are available that add a vibrant spectrum of interest and color to your garden.

We’d love to hear how the Earth’s Ally blog is helping you grow healthy plants. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

By Angelo Randaci

Celebrate World Bee Day with a Pollinator Garden

In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly declared May 20th as World Bee Day.  The purpose is to focus attention on the importance of preserving honeybees as well as other pollinators, which cannot be overstated. Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35% of the world’s food production is dependent on pollinators. One way we can celebrate this very special day is to plant a pollinator garden.

What is a Pollinator Garden?

A pollinator garden is designed to attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, moths, and a wide range of pollinating insects. A pollinator garden should include a broad array of flowers to attract a diversity of pollinators. Attracting bees, butterflies, and birds will bring movement and a sense of serenity to the garden.

How To Attract Bees to Your Garden With a Bee Friendly Design

A great garden often begins with a great plan and the first step in creating greatness begins with creating healthy fertile soil.  The soil should drain well and contain plenty of organic matter. You can grow most plants in this type of soil.  

What Do Bees Like?

  • In general, bees tend to be attracted to purples, yellows and whites. Red flowers attract more hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Bumble bees forage on members of the pea family. Lupines and beans are popular with bumble bee species.
  • Pollinators are especially attracted to plants they are used to, so choose native plants from your region.
  • Plant open single flowers. Their design is more user friendly to pollinators; geraniums, poppies, daisies and other daisy-type flowers. The single flowers provide easier access than double flowers.
  • Bees require water during foraging and collecting nectar, so create some type of water source. Fill a bird bath or other container with clean water and add stones just above the water level to serve as a landing strip.

For a constant supply of food for the pollinators, include nectar-rich plants that bloom from early spring until late fall. An assortment of long blooming and seasonal nectar plants provide food to attracted pollinators. Along with early spring, long blooming plants, and late season choices you can add a sprinkle of your favorite annuals to top off your design.

Bee Friendly Plants

Here are a few tips and some of the best pollinator plants to carry the garden from Spring to Fall.

  • Spring: For a delightful spring display, add early blooming bulbs. Purchase in the fall and work them throughout your garden for a stunning spring display. Crocus, bluebells, daffodils and grape hyacinths will attract early season pollinators. Columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) and foxgloves (Digitalis sp.) are biennials that will bloom in early spring and self-seed throughout the garden. If you have space for trees, plant trees such as apples, crab apples, serviceberry tree (Amelanchier spp.) and cherries.
  • Long-Blooming Plants: Sprinkle groupings of the following perennials to add long blooming color and insect food sources. Coneflowers (Echinacea sp.), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.), Tickseed (Coreopsis sp.), Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Yarrow, Gaillardia, and Catmint (Nepeta sp.)
  • Late-Season Plants: The late blooming plants will extend the blooming season up until frost. Top late summer pollen plants include Asters, Goldenrods, Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), Sneezeweed (Helenium sp.), Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, Ironweed, Blazing Star, Russian Sage, Asters, Mums (single flowered), Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) and Lavender.
  • Annuals and Herbs: Add bee-friendly annuals such as cosmos, dahlias (single flowered), ageratums, alyssum, milkweeds (Asclepias, annual and perennial species), and sunflowers. Favorite herbs of bees include anise, bee balm, borage, catnip, chives, hyssop, rosemary, valerian and mints.

All the plants on the above list will provide a bee banquet for your pollinator garden. Always check to see what plants will grow in your area.

A Few Tips & Tricks For Your Organic Garden

  • If you have limited in space, then plant pollinator plants in containers. Containers are versatile, moveable and changeable throughout the season.
  • Inter-mix bee friendly flowers with different flower/petal shapes and types. The reason to use different shaped flower parts is to provide pollen sources for insects with varying mouthpart types. Grow tubular-shaped flowers like foxglove, honeysuckle, penstemons and snapdragons.
  • Allow wildflowers such as clover, daisies and dandelions to populate your lawn providing additional nectar sources.
  • If you have an existing garden, simply add nectar plants to your annual or perennial border. Many of your plants may already be insect friendly plants.
  • Plant a variety of flowering plants around and in your vegetable garden to promote pollination of your veggies.
  • Add shrubs to provide flowering backdrop to your pollinator-friendly garden. Shrubs to attract pollinators include: Viburnums, Weigelia, Lilac, Sumersweet (Clethra alnifolia), Oak Leaf Hydrangea and Cotoneaster.
  • Many insects, butterflies and moths get most of their nectar from the thousands of flowers produced by trees. Here are a few good choices; Lindens, Hawthorns and Crape Myrtles. Besides being a food source, trees provide essential habitat. Leaves and resin from trees provide nesting material and wood cavities are used as shelters.

Use Organic Principles

When creating a habitat for pollinators to forage and thrive, avoid application of chemical pesticides that are toxic to the environment, to your family and to the pollinators. Sticky traps and organic controls are effective alternatives.

It is essential to check the ingredient list on all garden products. Beware of toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicide ingredients such as rotenone, pyrethrins, spinosad, diatomaceous earth, copper sulfate, and insecticidal soaps and oils. Moderately toxic ingredients include boric acid, neem, ryania, sulphur and copper. Review the “Environmental Hazards” section of the label to see if the product is toxic to bees.

If possible, wait until after blooming season to apply pesticides and only apply the products to affected plants. If you need to control pests, spray within 2 hours of sunrise or sunset to minimize risk to bees.

At Earth's Ally, we are committed to protecting our pollinators. We offer a complete lineup of Bee Safe® gardening products that have been scrutinized and tested by independent laboratories to ensure they are both effective and safe for People, Pets & Planet.

When we developed Earth’s Ally Insect Control, we tested extensively to ensure there was not harm to the bee population. It is formulated with rosemary, clove and peppermint oil to knockdown soft-bodied insects. The OMRI Listed® formula leaves behind no harmful residue and can be used up until the day of harvest.

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow healthy pollinator gardens. Share your experience with our bee safe formulas and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

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