As much as I love the idea of microbiomes and letting nature do its thing, when it comes to finding aphids on tomato plants in my garden, I tend to take things into my own hands. If you haven’t come across them, you probably will at some point in your gardening experience.
Aphids are tiny green insects that are easy to miss unless you look closely. They feed by tearing into the plants with their vampire-like fangs and sucking out the nutrient-rich liquids. Worse, they can carry diseases from plant to plant, causing extra damage.
And in case that’s not enough, they reproduce quickly, so a few aphids on tomato plants in a corner of your garden can soon be a destructive force. Lucky for us, there are several ways to get rid of aphids.
5 Easy ways to kill aphids on tomato plants before they ruin your garden
Your first line of defense in dealing with aphids on tomato plants or elsewhere in your garden is our friend, the ladybug. In the world of beneficial insects, ladybugs are legendary as aphid killers. You can also plant chives and marigolds, as they may repel aphids and other pests.
If you’re past that point, though, and need to take more drastic action, head to your pantry. You most likely already have what you need to take on an army of aphids.
1. Easy aphid spray. You only need a few simple ingredients for this one. Add a few drops of dish detergent and a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a quart of water and spray your plants when it’s cool out, either very early in the morning or late in the evening, so the oil doesn’t concentrate in the summer heat. You can also make this without the vegetable oil; the dish soap and water mixture should do the trick, it might just take a little longer. With either recipe, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to help deter any further aphid infestation.
2. Neem oil spray. Neem oil is like the ibuprofen of the garden. It seems to cure so many problems, from mildew on rosemary to aphids on tomato plants. If this miracle cure isn’t in your pantry already, go get some as soon as you can. For dealing with aphids, mix two tablespoons of Neem oil into a quart of water and spray weekly, making sure to get the underside of the leaves where aphids congregate.
3. Vinegar spray. This one is pretty basic, as well, but it works. Simply combine vinegar and water in a one-to-five ratio and spray your plants. Vinegar can also help prevent mold and fungal diseases, so you get bonus points for this combo.
4. Flour. I’ll be honest. I haven’t tried this, but supposedly all-purpose flour is one way to kill aphids on tomato plants. It’s said to dry them out when they eat it. Again, I can’t vouch for this, but if you’re desperate, it certainly won’t hurt anything.
5. Water. Okay, this one probably isn’t in your pantry, but if you don’t have a major infestation of aphids on tomato plants, you can use your garden hose to spray them off. A word to the wise, however: spray away from your garden. You don’t want to shift the aphid problem to another plant.
As with most pest problems, of course, the easiest solution is to prevent them in the first place. Companion planting with mint, garlic, and other strongly scented plants (such as the previously mentioned chives and marigolds) is a great way to add some extra life to your garden and keep pests away.
Have you had issues with aphids on tomato plants in your garden? How did you take care of it?