How to Locate an Article on the Laidback Gardener Website


Look no further! The answer to your gardening question is probably on the Laidback Gardener website. Illus.:

Are you looking for horticultural information on the Laidback Gardener website? There is a good chance the information is there, but with more than 1,000 published articles, how do you find it?

Fortunately, that’s easy!


Click on the plus (+) sign on the top  right of the screen.

If you see a plus sign (+) at the top right side of the screen, click on it to open the side panel.


Enter the words you’re looking for into “Search” and click.

A button marked “Search” will appear. Click on it and enter a few words about the problem, then press Enter or click the magnifying glass icon.

20170727ENGCThe titles and first few lines of one or more articles concerning your problem will probably appear. If there is more than one, scroll down to find the one closest to your needs, then click on the title to display the full article.

Yes, it’s as easy as that!

If you don’t see the plus sign (+)


When the menu (green) is present on the left of the window, the  “Search” button will be at the bottom.

On computers, the screen is wider than on tablets and smartphones and the side panel (menu) is generally already visible. If so, you’ll find the “Search” button at the bottom of the menu.

Another Method

Here’s another easy way to get to the right article on the Laidback Gardener website:


Enter “laidback gardener” and your question in the search box and click enter.

Go to your favorite search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and enter the words “laidback gardener” followed by your question.


One or more articles should appear. Click on your favorite or scroll down for more.

Again, in a short time you’ll probably find several suggested articles, so click on the one that best meets your needs. Scroll down to find more.

Enjoy looking up your favorite garden questions!20170727G

Soggier Than Thou: Plants That Tolerate Wet Soil

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Japanese primoses (Primula japonica) naturalized in a boggy site near a stream. Photo: くろふね, Wikimedia Commons

Ideally, good garden soil would be both moist and well drained. Any surplus moisture would then drain away rapidly, allowing oxygen to flow into the spaces left empty between the soil particles (plant roots need oxygen for healthy growth), yet the soil would also retain enough moisture so plants growing there would have all the water they need for their growth. This would be the ideal situation for probably 95% of all plants.

If there is an area in your garden where a soil is constantly soaking wet, the best thing to do is therefore to correct the situation by installing drains or adding a raised bed. This will allow maximum use of the area for lawns, flower beds, vegetable gardens, etc.

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Soggy soil near a pond calls for the use of bog plants, as shown here. Photo: Lilies Water Gardens

But that’s not always possible. Some soils are always wet because they are in a depression, at the foot of a slope, border a stream or lake or are in some other location where improving the drainage would be complicated, impossible or undesirable. But if your garden’s soil is always soggy or usually so, don’t moan about your bad luck. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, just make lemonade! When your soil is poorly drained, the most laidback thing to do is grow plants that tolerate or even prefer wet soils: problem solved!

The plants that follow have the ability to live in environments that are always wet and notably where the constant presence of moisture means oxygen levels are low. Some of them are semi-aquatic or marginal plants and, in nature, their roots constantly soak in water. Most, though, are adapted to a more terrestrial environment, very moist, yet not totally waterlogged. Many of the plants listed here naturally grow on the edge of lakes or rivers or in marshes, swamps or bogs. All will do well in moist to garden wet soil.

Annuals and Tender Bulbs

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Cannas are usually grown in ordinary, well-drained garden soil, but will also thrive with their roots in water. Photo: Biswarup Ganguly, Wikimedia Commons

  1. Calla lily (Zantedeschia spp.)
  2. Canna (Canna spp.)
  3. Cleome or spiderflower (Cleoma hasslerana)
  4. Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)
  5. Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
  6. Monkey flower (Mimulus x hybrida)
  7. Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)
  8. Snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata)
  9. Taro or elephant’s ear (Colocasia esculenta)
  10. Wax begonia (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum)
  11. Wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri)


Small Blue Flowers Flower Myosotis Pet

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis) aren’t the slightest bit bothered by soggy soil. Photo: Max Pixel.

  1. Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) zone 3
  2. Forget-me-not (Myosotis spp.) zone 3
  3. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) zone 3b


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Astilbes thrive in moist soils and will even grow in full sun if their roots always remain moist. Photo:  Kor!An, Wikimedia Commons

  1. Andrew’s gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) zone 2
  2. Astilbe (Astilbe spp.) zone 3
  3. Astilboides (Astilboides tabularis) zone 3
  4. Beebalm (Monarda spp.) zone 3
  5. Bishop’s weed (Aegopodium podagraria) zone 3
  6. Black snakeroot (Cimicifuga racemosa, syn. Actaea racemosa) zone 3
  7. Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) zone 3
  8. Blue marsh violet (Viola cucullata) zone 4
  9. Bog Iris (Iris spp.) zone 2 to 7, according to species
  10. Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla) zone 3
  11. Butterbur (Petasites japonicas) zone 3
  12. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) zone 3
  13. Cattail or bulrush (Typha spp.) zone 2
  14. Common bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) zone 3

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    Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginanium). Photo:

  15. Culver’s root (Veronicastrum spp.) zone 3
  16. Eastern Skunk cabbage (Sympocarpus foetidus) zone 3
  17. Ferns (most species) zone 1 to 10, according to species
  18. Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium, syn. Epilobium angustifolium) zone 2
  19. Flag irises (Iris versicolor and others) zone 3
  20. Globeflower (Trollius spp.) zone 3
  21. Goatsbeard (Aruncus spp.) zone 3
  22. Golden star (Chrysogonum virginianum) zone 4
  23. Hosta (Hosta spp.) zone 3
  24. Houttuynia (Houttuynia cordata) zone 4
  25. Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) zone 3

    20170726G Tak1701d, WC

    Japanese iris (Iris ensata) is only one of many iris species adapted to wet soils. Photo: Tak1701d, Wikimedia Commons

  26. Japanese iris (Iris ensata) zone 4 ou 5
  27. Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium spp.) zone 3
  28. Leopard’s bane (Doronicum spp.) zone 3
  29. Ligularia (Ligularia spp.) zone 3
  30. Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) zone 1
  31. Loosestrife (Lysimachia spp.) zone 3
  32. Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.) zone 3

    DCF 1.0

    Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) grows naturally in boggy soils throughout the northern hemisphere and can be used in gardens as well. Photo: BerndH, Wikimedia Commons

  33. Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) zone 3
  34. Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia) zone 3
  35. New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, syn. Aster novae-angliae) zone 3
  36. New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) zone 3
  37. Perennial hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) zone 5
  38. Pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) zone 3
  39. Pitcher plant (Sarracenia spp.) zone 3 to 8, according to species
  40. Primrose (Primula spp.) zone 2 to 7, according to species
  41. Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) zone 3
  42. Quamash (Camassia leitchlinii) zone 5
  43. Queen-of-the-prairie or meadowsweet (Filipendula spp.) zone 3
  44. Rodgersia (Rodgersia spp.) zone 4
  45. Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) zone 3
  46. Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton spp.) zone 5
  47. Snakeweed (Polygonum bistorta) zone 3
  48. Sneezeweed (Helenium spp.) zone 3
  49. Spotted deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) zone 2

    20170726E Asclepias incarnata

    Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) grows naturally in soggy soils… and is a major host plant of the monarch butterfly. Photo:

  50. Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) zone 3
  51. Swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) zone 5
  52. Sweet woodruff or bedstraw (Galium odoratum) zone 3
  53. Turtlehead (Chelone spp.) zone 3

    20170726F Wouter Hagens, WC

    Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata). Photo: Wouter Hagens, Wikimedia Commons

  54. Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata) zone 2
  55. Virginia bluebells (Mertensia pulmonarioides) zone 2
  56. Water-arum (Calla palustris) zone 2
  57. Wild ginger (Asarum spp.) zone 3 to 7, according to species
  58. Yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) zone 2
  59. Yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) zone 2

Ornamental Grasses

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Corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’): a most unusual grasslike plant that will grow in water or on land.

  1. Bowles’ golden sedge (Carex elata ‘Aurea’) zone 5
  2. Broadleaf sedge (Carex siderosticha) zone 4
  3. Common reed (Phragmites australis) zone 3
  4. Corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’) zone 4
  5. Gardener’s garters (Phalaris arundinacea picta) zone 3
  6. Giant maiden grass (Miscanthus x giganteus, syn. Miscanthus floridulus) zone 5
  7. Grass-leaf sweet flag (Acorus gramineus) zone 4
  8. Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis) zone 4, 5 ou 6, according to cultivar
  9. Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) zone 5
  10. Palm sedge (Carex muskingumensis) zone 2
  11. Prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) zone 4
  12. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) zone 4
  13. Variegated reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima ‘Variegata’) zone 4


    Variegated sweet flag (Acorus calamus ‘Variegatus’) likes its roots in the mud and its leaves in the sun. Photo:

  14. Variegated sweet flag (Acorus calamus ‘Variegatus’) zone 4
  15. Zebra rush (Schoenoplectus lacustris tabernaemontani ‘Zebrinus’) zone 5


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The weeping willow is probably the tree most associated with wet soil. Photo: Przykuta, Wikimedia Commons

  1. Alder (Alnus spp.) variable, zone 2-7
  2. American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) zone 3
  3. Arborvitae or northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) zone 3
  4. Bald cypress (Taxodium spp.) zone 5
  5. Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) zone 2
  6. Black gum or tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) zone 5
  7. Black spruce (Picea mariana) zone 1
  8. Catalpa (Catalpa spp.) zone 5
  9. Common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) zone 3
  10. Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostrobioides) zone 5
  11. Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) zone 4
  12. Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) zone 3
  13. Japanese zelkova (Zelkova serrata) zone 6
  14. Lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia) zone 6
  15. Larch (Larix spp.) zone 2
  16. Pin oak (Quercus palustris) zone 4
  17. Poplar (Populus spp.) zone 2 to 7, according to species
  18. Red maple (Acer rubrum) zone 3

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    Heritage River birch (Betula nigra ‘Cully’), a popular cultivar, will grow both in very moist soils and well-drained ones. Photo:

  19. River birch (Betula nigra) zone 3
  20. Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) zone 3
  21. Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) zone 4
  22. Sweet gum (Liquidamabar styraciflua) zone 6
  23. Sycamore or plane tree (Platanus spp.) zone 5
  24. Western redcedar (Thuja plicata) zone 5
  25. Willow (Salix spp.) zone 3 to 9, according to species


20170726K Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz WC

Button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a shrub for damp soils that has attractive and unusual flowers. Photo: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, Wikimedia Commons

  1. American cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum) zone 2
  2. American elder (Sambucus canadensis) zone 4
  3. Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) zone 3
  4. Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) zone 4b
  5. Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) zone 3 to 6, according to species
  6. Bog myrtle (Myrica gale) zone 2
  7. Bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) zone 2
  8. Button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) zone 4
  9. Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) zone 5
  10. Chokeberry (Aronia spp.) zone 3
  11. Common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) zone 3
  12. Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) zone 3
  13. Cranberry (Vaccinium spp.) zone 3
  14. Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus) zone 3
  15. Dense hypericum (Hypericum densiflorum) zone 6
  16. Dogwood (shrubby species) (Cornus alba, C. sericea, etc.) zone 2 to 5, according to species
  17. Drooping leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana) zone 6
  18. Inkberry (Ilex glabra) zone 5
  19. Laurel (Kalmia spp.) variable, zone 2 to 6
  20. Narrowleaf meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) zone 3
  21. Steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa) zone 3
  22. Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) zone 5
  23. Sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) zone 4

    Salix integra 'Hakaru Nishiki' in June

    Dappled willow (Salix integra ‘Hakruo Nishiki’) thrives in wet to regular garden soils.

  24. Willow (Salix spp.) zone 1 à 7, according to species
  25. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) zone 3
  26. Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) zone 6

Good gardening!20170726A くろふね, WC

Keeping Mosquitoes Out Of Your Water Garden



With mosquito-borne diseases (West Nile virus, equine encephalitis, Zika* virus, etc.) becoming increasingly common and worries about sources of stagnant water hosting them in backyards on the rise, it’s nice to know that there is an easy way to make your water garden isn’t to blame.

*The Zika virus is not yet found in North America north of Florida and Texas and is entirely absent from Europe, but mosquito species capable of carrying this disease are present on both continents. Most authorities believe that it is only a matter of time before the virus reaches these areas.

It’s easy enough to control mosquito larvae (and black-fly larvae as well) and thus help cut back on the number of biting adults in your garden. You just have to add Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), a beneficial bacterium, to the water.

No, Bti is not a GMO. It’s a naturally occurring, widely distributed bacterium probably already found in swamps and lakes near where you live. By releasing it into your backyard pond, you’re only making sure that it is protected as well. Bti is, of course, organic and is widely accepted in organic gardening.

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Bit will kill mosquito larvae before they turn into biting adults. Photo: Pixabay

Bti is specific to mosquito and black-fly larvae and will not harm any other insects. Not only is it safe with bees and butterflies, but won’t even harm other aquatic insects. (Please note that another form of the Bt, Btk [Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki], is used for the biological control of caterpillars, that is, butterfly larvae.) Nor is it toxic or harmful to fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, or mammals, including humans and domestic animals.


These Bti pellets look like floating Cherrios!

Bti is found in several formats: granules, powder, floating pellets, etc. Depending on the option chosen, treatments should be repeated approximately every 30 days.

Products containing Bti are found in hardware stores and agricultural coops as well as on the Internet (for example, on Here are a few of the trademarks offered: MosquitoDunks®, AquaBac and Vectobac.

Finally, here is a more in-depth source of information about Bti: Everything you should know about Bti.20170725A

Gardening Doesn’t Have to Be a Burden

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If gardening is a burden, you’re doing something wrong! Illus.: ClipArt Panda

Too many beginning gardeners have a defeatist attitude towards gardening. They think that gardening necessarily involves a lot of time and effort and they expect to have to work hard.

But gardening doesn’t need to take much time! Whenever you come across a task that will take forever or will come back again and again throughout the summer, rebel! There’s bound to be an easier way. Remind yourself of one simple thing: Mother Nature designed plants to survive and they can get along without you if you give them the slightest chance.

If you have to struggle over and over again to keep a plant alive or work like a madman to keep your yard in shape, that’s not normal. There are ways of getting great results using much less effort.

You’re obviously listening to the wrong people. It’s all about knowing how to get things done with a minimum of effort … and by coming regularly to the Laidback Gardener website, you’ll find all sorts of ways of making gardening easier.

MosaïCanada 150: Don’t Miss It!


Mother Earth, one of the largest and most inventive mosaic sculptures, has become the symbol of Mosaïcultures internationales and is presented in each of its international shows. All but one of the others are entirely new.

I was able to visit MosaiCanada 150 in Gatineau, Quebec, last week and it was spectacular! Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal, which has presented similar exhibitions all over the world since 2000, has really mastered the fundamentals of 3-D gardening and the quality of this year’s presentations is truly exceptional.

What Is Mosaiculture?


Giving a living sculpture a bit of a hair cut.

Mosaiculture is a horticultural art that involves creating and mounting living artworks made primarily from plants with colorful foliage. You’ll sometimes see two dimensional mosaics (carpet bedding) in front of prestigious buildings with the company’s name written in live plants, but the specialty of MosaiCanada 150 is three-dimensional mosaics, as seen in Gatineau, in which the displays are living sculptures. Each sculpture, filled with soil and wrapped in landscape cloth, is covered with thousands of small plants that are subsequently watered, pruned and pampered to maintain the desired multicolor effect throughout the summer.


The visit begins with a train station … and yes, those are plants you see on its walls, roof and even chimney! This display is called “A Ticket to Canada” and invites you to visit further.


All Aboard is the name of this display, a train and its wagons all made of living plants inviting you to visit Canada.


You’re in Canada, so you should expect to see a Mountie!


Each of Canada’s provinces and territories has its own mosaic. This one, called The Lobster Fisherman, represents Nova Scotia.


Quebec is represented by Three Ships from France.


Manitoba is famous for its polar bears, so…


A reminder of the Klondike for Yukon Territory.


These muskoxen, representing the Northwest Territories, almost seem alive… Well, actually they are, but with plants!


MosaïCanada 150 is a less international exposition than previous ones held in Canada. Only China is present, wishing Canada luck, here with Blessing of the Good Omen Dragons, offered by Beijing.


Shanghai too celebrates Canada’s anniversary with Joyful Celebration of the Nine Lions.


Another part of  the Joyful Celebration of the Nine Lions.


The Voyageur, in his canoe, represents Canada’s long association with fur trading.


You’re in Canada, so you have to expect hockey! This one is called The Winning Goal.


A few horses on the loose in the Mother Earth display. Yes, the manes and tails, not to mention the fur, are made up of live plants!

The Important Details

MosaïCanada 150 is part of the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. The exhibition takes place in Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, Quebec, just across the Ottawa River from Canada’s capital: Ottawa, Ontario. Admission is free and the exhibition is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm from June 30 to October 15, 2017.

20170723Q.gifIf you play to travel to Ottawa/Gatineau, it’s within driving distance of most Eastern Canadian and Northeastern US cities. There is train and bus service while the Ottawa Airport offers direct flights to and from many Canadian and American cities.

Remember, you have until October 15 to see the show. It won’t be back again next year!

For information: 1-819-360-6336.



What Happens to the Sculptures After the Show?

Have you ever wondered what happens to mosaic displays after a mosaiculture exhibition show is over?

Three-dimensional mosaics are generally designed as temporary presentations, but can be maintained and replanted for many years.

In this case, those that represent Canada’s nine provinces and three territories will be given to the host province/territory where they’ll be maintained and placed on public view.

The structures of some sculptures will be stored for future shows. (Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal is keeping mum about future plans.) Other sculptures will simply be destroyed.

All the more reasons to get to Gatineau before October 15!

NB. All the photos in this presentation are the property of… but you’re free to share them as you see fit!20170723N

Garden Myth: Removing Lily Anthers Prolongs Flowering

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Removing the stamens from a lily flower doesn’t prolong its bloom. Photo: PD-PDPHOTO.ORG, Wikimedia Commons

You often hear that removing the anthers (or entire stamens) from lily flowers will make them last longer, but is it true?

I’m afraid not. Removing the anthers—those tubular growths jutting out of the flower and coated in yellow, orange or brown pollen—or even completely removing the stamens—the filaments to which the anthers are attached—won’t add 5 minutes to how long the flower lasts. Bummer!

Like many garden myths, there is a logical idea behind this belief. The belief is that, if the anthers were removed, the plant would have more energy to put into flowering. But maintaining the anthers requires very little energy, as they are already deployed when the flower opens, and no, the flower doesn’t make more pollen to replace the pollen removed by insects. How long the flower actually lasts depends on a mix of genetics and weather conditions and it will remain open for 2 or 3 weeks, anthers or not.

Intact lily flowers (left) are much more attractive than emasculated ones (left). Photos: Wikimedia Commons

This is good news, because removing the anthers, or entire stamens, greatly reduces the beauty of the flower … and it’s a meticulous, time-consuming task the laidback gardener can well live without.

Avoiding Pollen Stains

So much for lilies in the garden, but what about when you bring them indoors as cut flowers or as (temporary) houseplants?

That’s when it may be wise to remove the anthers. Not that the flower will last any longer that way, but lily pollen causes hard-to-remove stains that easily penetrate many fabrics (clothes, curtains, carpets, etc.). If you plan to place a bouquet of cut lilies on a valuable tablecloth, for example, it would be better to remove the anthers … and to do so outdoors, before you place the vase on the table!

Or take a laidback attitude and place the bouquet on a plastic tablecloth, one that won’t absorb pollen!

Removing Pollen Stains

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Lily pollen can stain fabrics. Photo: Max Pixel

But pollen stains do happen, so it’s nice to know how to handle them.

To remove fresh lily pollen from a fabric without staining it, gently brush and knock it off. Or touch the fabric with sticky tape or a lint roller (the type used to remove pet fur and dandruff from clothes) and the pollen will stick to it.

Don’t touch lily pollen with your hands: the oils your fingers produce can fix it to the fabric. Nor should you rub the fabric with a damp cloth: it will penetrate the fabric and be harder to remove.

You could also try placing the stained fabric on a sunny windowsill for a day or two: the sun will bleach the pollen until it is nearly invisible (this works best with yellow pollen; not so well with orange or brown shades).

Oops! It’s too late and the pollen stain seems to have fully integrated the fabric? Apply a commercial stain remover as per the instructions and wash the fabric at a high temperature. That should get the stain out!20170722C PD-PDPHOTO.ORG, WC ENG

When Fruit Flies Invade Your Compost Pile


20170721AComposting is so simple: you just add kitchen and garden waste to a pile or bin and stir it from time to time. It couldn’t be easier! But there are occasionally unpleasant surprises … like when you open the lid of your composter and the air instantly fills with thousands of fruit flies (Drosophila spp. and others).

Fortunately, solving this problem is easy.

What They Like

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Fruit fly. Photo: Katja Schulz, Flickr

Fruit flies are attracted by the smell of decomposition and, more specifically, fermentation, not only of fruits, but of other plant materials. They’ll come from quite a distance in search of their favorite food source: some species can smell fermentation up to a ½ mile/1 km away. They love compost piles, especially open ones, where they can lay their eggs on exposed fresh kitchen scraps. Since each female can lay up to 500 eggs and it only takes a week or so to produce a new generation of flying adults, you won’t really be exaggerating when you claim there are thousands of fruit flies hovering over your compost bin!

Just covering your compost bin with a lid may help a little, but if there is an opening somewhere, they’ll soon find it!

Bury Waste

The easy solution to a fruit fly infestation is just to bury fresh ingredients, especially fruits and vegetables, under more decomposed compost from further down in the pile. Fruit flies can’t dig and if their food supply isn’t directly exposed, they’re toast! Problem solved!

20170721C Dvortygirl, WC

Covering fresh kitchen scraps with brown matter will keep fruit flies away. Photo: Dvortygirl,  Wikimedia Commons

Or cover fresh scraps with “brown matter.” (People who compost commonly divide ingredients into “brown matter,” rich in carbon, and “green matter,” rich in nitrogen.) Brown matter is of no interest to fruit flies.

Many gardeners keep bags of fall leaves, harvested the previous autumn, on hand so they’ll have plenty to add to the summer compost. A layer of brown leaves makes an excellent fruit fly barrier. If you don’t have a handy supply of leaves, cover your compost pile with other brown materials, such as shredded newspaper or wood chips.

Or Live and Let Live

While humans generally disdain fruit flies, they are not harmful per se. As long as they are outdoors, you don’t have to control them if you don’t want to. If their presence doesn’t bother you—and your neighbors aren’t complaining—, you can simply leave fruit flies alone. They’re even useful! Their larvae help decompose fresh materials and adults attract swallows, phoebes and other insect-eating birds to your garden.

Good composting!20170721A