Citrus stink bugs and bronze-orange citrus bugs are names for one of the main pests of citrus trees. Young nymphs are green and can be found in groups on the undersides of leaves. As they mature, stink bugs gradually change colour, changing to a dark orange and then brown as they reach full maturity.
Their common name comes from their ability to release a pungent odour if they happen to be disturbed, perhaps by someone brushing against a branch of the tree.
These pests can cause considerable damage to citrus trees as they suck the sap from new leaves and flower stems. This causes the shoots to wither, with a resultant loss of the current crop. In addition to the particular odour present in the general area of a tree, withered shoots on trees that should be covered with bright new shoots will be an indication to the gardener that stink bugs are present.
As the secretion from the bugs is quite caustic, care should be taken when dealing with these pests. This particularly applies to the eyes.
Control of the pests using organic sprays is not always effective. However, the home gardener, appropriately covered in order to avoid the staining secretions, can use certain methods to reduce the numbers of insects on their trees.
If a branch that has stink bugs on it is hit with a stick or broom, the pests drop to the ground. There they can be disposed of by treading on them, or they can be put into a tin or dish containing soapy water or a methylated spirits solution. On hot, dry days the bugs leave the foliage and move to the base of the trees.
Gardeners wishing to try to deal with stinkbugs at the egg stage may be able to locate the eggs on the underside of the leaves. The eggs will be spherical and reasonably large, being about 3mm in size. They will characteristically have been laid in rows. Leaves carrying the eggs should be cut from the tree and sealed in a plastic bag for disposal.
An adequate supply of water and mulch, keeping the surrounding soil consistently moist, will assist greatly in preventing future attacks. A good application of a complete fertiliser will also assist in deterring stink bugs.
Some Australian native plants are displaying their heat and drought tolerance in gardens just now by being able to survive the extremes of heat that we have been experiencing.
Callistemon Pink Champagne grows into a dense shrub about two metres tall, with stiff, aromatic leaves and large, deep pink brushes. The flowers fade as they age so that at any given time the plants carry brushes of various shades of pink. Honeyeaters are attracted to the flowers. Pink Champagne is a hardy and colourful plant suitable for shrubberies.
Careful and deliberate breeding techniques have resulted in an increasing variety of new kangaroo paw plants that have improved forms, a wider variety of flower colour and increased disease resistance.
Kangaroo paws (anigozanthus) grow naturally in the western areas of Australia, preferring a drier summer. However, the newer varieties are more tolerant of humidity and are available in differing heights ranging from small plants which are ideal for garden borders or pot culture, through to much taller varieties.
The taller varieties are, in general, tougher plants. To encourage good flowering displays the plants should be well pruned almost to ground level.
Dwarf pink, dwarf orange and Bush Tango, with bright orange flowers make attractive clumps, producing flowers on tall, stately stems.
Westringia Jervis Bay is a very hardy and adaptable shrub. It forms a rounded shrub 1-1.2m tall by 1-1.5m wide. Blue-mauve flowers most of the year feature most of the year. Plants prefer full sun to part shade. In addition to being a most useful plant in a native plant garden, Westringia Jervis Bay is also most suitable for formal gardens as it can be pruned into shapes and low hedges.
Agonis flexuosa burgundy, with its graceful weeping habit and strong burgundy new growth would make a most suitable companion plant for Westringia Jervis Bay.
Other plants that would create most effective displays include; Acacia Limelight, which produces lush green foliage, with a compact growth habit, is very suitable for use in small gardens, patios and courtyards, in gardens that feature native, exotic, oriental or tropical styles; and Leptospermum Copper Glow, which is a rounded shrub that may reach a height of three metres. The stems are reddish, and the leaves are small, copper coloured and narrowly elliptical. Flowers are rather small and white.
The dark foliage is an eye-catching feature that contrasts with the more “conventional” foliage colours of other shrubs in the garden.
Rose plants are generally grown as grafted plants, with wood from the selected variety grafted on to a strong growing host plant.
During periods of strong growth, it is essential to check that growth is not coming from below the graft. This type of growth will have leaves that are different in shape and colour from the desired variety. This growth should be removed by cutting it away from the trunk of the plant.
If the growth is allowed to remain on the plant, it will eventually take over the plant and the preferred variety will die away.