Aphids really grind my gears. Consider how much time you invest caring for your flowers and giving them what they need to thrive. You make sure they get enough water, feed them the right amount of fertilizer and you give them plenty of sunshine. Everything appears to be going swimmingly until you notice those black tiny aphids squeezing the life out of your prized flowers. Demoralising… I know!
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Natural aphid Spray vinegar
The natural mixture is really simple to put together. Like my dad always tells me, “KISS – keep it simple stupid”. I try to aim for a combination of 1:3 – 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. In a measuring jug use, 18oz of water and 6oz of vinegar. I also add a tbsp of Castile soap for further protection. Transfer into a garden sprayer and spray your infested plant on the stems, underside and tops of the leaves.
What are aphids?
I’ve stated this before in other articles I have written, and I’ll use the same analogy!
Aphids are tiny monsters that may wreak havoc on plants already growing in your garden. They have no other function in their entire lifecycle but to extract sap from plants.
Think of them as illegal renters (I use the term renters lightly as it definitely isn’t quid pro quo). They live in your flat, take advantage of the shelter you provide, drink all of your supplies, use your facilities, and don’t even pay you for it. A one-way street as it were.
Aphids also come in a variety of colours depending on the type. For example, you’ll see greenflies around your roses and blackflies if you are currently growing broad beans.
Aphids don’t only kill your plants and flowers by drinking the sap through the sharp needle-like mouthpart, they’re also a vessel to a host of different viruses that can easily be passed from plant to plant. I found a terrific PDF that outlines some important viruses spread by aphids such as Bean common mosaic virus, Cucumber mosaic virus, Potato virus Y and Johnson grass mosaic virus.
How vinegar kills aphids
A vinegar spray works by burning them to death. No, not like being vaporised by the sun but more because of an active ingredient called acetic acid. The acetic acid in vinegar clogs the aphid’s pores, disrupts their breathing patterns, and prevents them from regulating their body temperature. It also disrupts their waxy protective coating (cuticle), which helps keep them stay hydrated during dry spells.
Think of vinegar as a natural pesticide. People tend to avoid using chemical pesticides because of the health risks involved such as Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, and in some circumstances birth defects. If you want to read up on the dangers of pesticides (mostly chemicals) then have a read of an article written by nature.com
Because it is a natural pesticide (not chemically processed), vinegar is a much safer natural pest alternative to chemical pesticides.
Vinegar can be harmful to your plants if used in excess, so exercise caution while mixing it. To ensure that the solution does not desiccate and harm your plants, dilute it first. Vinegar at a high concentration is likely to induce browning on leaves, as well as stunning the plant.
Does vinegar get rid of aphids?
Yes, of course, this is all because of the active ingredient “acetic acid”. Natural vinegar aphid spray is an easy and inexpensive solution to treat aphids on your houseplants, trees, shrubs and outdoor plants. I personally believe that many gardeners opt for this natural pesticide because most people have it in their cupboards.
You don’t need to worry about ordering specific ingredients online, just a little vinegar and water in a sprayer is more than enough to carry out the job.
No method has 100% effective. You may find that using this specific aphid-killing recipe doesn’t give you the results you want, I have also written an article on alternative easy-to-make bug sprays that you can use that may be even more effective but, like anything, there is always an element of trial and error.
How to make natural aphid vinegar spray
So you’ve identified that you have aphids growing on your plants, think about aphids on hibiscus and pothos plants as well as your small trees and kale. I’m going to talk you through how exactly you make this vinegar solution below as well as a video:
- Get a measuring jug and fill it with 6 oz of vinegar
- Add 18 oz of water filtered or unfiltered
- Combine the vinegar and water by stirring
- Fill a sprayer with the solution.
- Hose down big clusters of aphids first with a garden hose
- Spray the aphids with the natural aphid vinegar spray on infested areas
- Repeat every few days until the aphid numbers have reduced
Natural aphid vinegar spray precautions
Vinegar is a highly acidic liquid, in fact, it has a PH level of around 2.5 so make sure you use it with caution. In my experience, you need to try and strike a balance between killing the aphids and preventing the acid from killing your plants.
To ensure that the solution does not desiccate and ruin your plants, I always make sure to dilute it first. Vinegar at a high concentration is likely to induce browning on leaves, as well as stunning the plant. Make sure you stick to the 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water ratio.
If you feel nervous to start off with, there is no harm in using a smaller amount of vinegar first, see how your plant is reacting and then slowly increase.
Natural alternatives to controlling aphids
As mentioned above some plants are sensitive to the acidity of vinegar. As a result, vinegar may not be suitable for every aphid infestation. You can use one or more of the following natural treatments to help get rid of aphids on your plants:
Vinegar + castile soap formula
You can make a more powerful vinegar-based pesticide solution by combining it with castile soap, which is even more effective than vinegar alone. The soap includes strong chemical compounds that can also kill aphids. There are other alternatives that you can use that lean more on the side of chemicals like liquid dish soap.
Here’s how to make a castile soap-based vinegar aphid pesticide:
- In a jug, combine a spoonful of castile soap with a gallon of water
- Add 6oz vinegar to the measuring jug and mix it in
- Pour the solution into your garden sprayer
- Apply the vinegar solution to the aphids on the sick plant
- Remove the castile soap from the plants using a garden hose
Aphids prefer to hide on the undersides of leaves, so spraying the natural vinegar solution there to kill as many of them as possible is a good strategy.
Use water to remove aphids
Now I always suggest you do this even before looking for other solutions whether that be natural or chemical pesticides.
Your garden hose will be really effective at spraying water at high pressure to dislodge the aphids. The aphids will really struggle to shield themselves from the water spray so they will either drop off or die. It’s good practice to check that the water isn’t too hot or cold because theis rapid increase in temperature can shock your plants.
Dust plants with diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is an excellent insecticide for gardens, lawns, and indoor plants. Thrips, mealy bugs, and aphids are all garden pests that can be exterminated by it. Dust the infested plants with diatomaceous earth to suffocate them, then try to cover all surfaces of the plant to ensure that if they other aphids come into contact with the natural pesticide later, it will have the same effect. Within 10-12 hours, the insects will fall off and die.
When using vinegars, there are a few things to keep in mind
Make sure you test
When utilizing something like apple cider vinegar solution to get rid of aphids on your garden plants, be sure to test the plants first since some gardening plants are severely sensitive to its acidity.
Take a sample
Take a sample of the effected foliage and mix it with a tiny quantity of the solution. Spray only a little piece of the afflicted plant with a small amount of solution, then observe to see how it reacts. If no problems arise, you can spray all of the affected plants.
Vinegar, as a natural insect-killer, is a safe and effective alternative to conventional pesticides that contain hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, unlike chemical pesticides, there is no danger of chemical burns if it comes into contact with your skin accidentally. Finally, vinegar-based pesticides have a less irritating aroma than chemical-based ones.
So let’s summarise what we’ve learnt in this article, although the process of making the natural aphid vinegar spray is rather straightforward, we need to take responsibility for the overall health of our plants:
- Use garden hose first to dislodge
- Take a small sample of your plant to see how it reacts
- KISS – “keep it simple stupid”
- Aim for a combination of 1:3
- 1 part white wine vinegar to 3 parts water.
- Don’t go mad with measuring
- Make sure there is enough to fill your garden sprayer.
- Spray your infested plant on the stems, underside and tops of the leaves.