Integrated Pest Management for Perennials

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tactics in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks. Developing an IPM program for perennials is challenging due to the low tolerance for pest damage. However, you can develop a program specific to your operation. Start by defining your goals and gathering information. Monitoring and record-keeping are critical to develop an effective IPM program. Focus on monitoring key plants and key pests. Key plants are those perennials with the highest dollar value or those plants that are susceptible to serious and persistent problems every season. Key pests are those pests which are serious, persistent problems year after year. Many key pests have rapid generation times and attack a wide range of herbaceous perennials. The following chart is not an exhaustive listing of key pests or their potential hosts. For simplicity sake, frequently only the genus name is included because of the large numbers of perennial cultivars and species. For more detailed information, consult the references listed at the end of this handout. Key pests will also vary depending upon your production method. In greenhouse perennial production aphids, fungus gnats, greenhouse whiteflies, western flower thrips, two-spotted mites and slugs are of concern. In outdoor container production, two-spotted spider mites, black vine weevil, leafhoppers, four-lined plant bugs, slugs and spittlebugs may be of concern. Knowledgeable observers (scouts) and good records will aid in your decision-making and evaluation efforts.

Some Sources of IPM Monitoring Tools
These addresses are provided as a convenience and are not recommended over those not mentioned.

 E. C. Geiger 1-800-443-4437
 Hydro-Gardens, Inc. 1-800-634-6362
 Gemplers 1-800-382-8473
 IPM Laboratories 1-315-497-2063
 Griffin Greenhouse and Nursery Supplies 508-851-4347
 WH Milikowski 1-800-243-7170
 The Green Spot 603-942-8925

Key Pest Key Plants Monitoring Treatment Options


(Myzus persicae (GPA),

Aphis gossypii (MA) and other species)

Alcea, Asclepias, Aster, Arabis, Bellis, Coreopsis, Chrysanthemum, Dianthus, Doronicum, Echinops, Erigeron, Helianthus, Hibiscus, Myosotis, Gaillardia, Lythrum, Monarda, Papaver, Penstemon, Rudbeckia, Phlox, Primula, Salvia, Sedum, Verbascum Rely on plant inspection. Scout weekly, beginning in February. Look on the underside of leaves and buds. Green peach aphids (GPA) are pale green to pink. Melon aphids (MA) are smaller, greenish-yellow to dark green with cornicles (tailpipes) darker than the rest of their body.

Eliminate weeds.




Horticultural Oil


Insecticidal Soap

In outdoor production, natural enemies such as ladybird beetles and lacewing larvae may help to keep populations in check.

Fungus Gnats

(Bradysia sp. and

Sciara sp. )

Larvae may be particularly damaging to Dianthus, Heuchera, Lathyrus, Lobelia, Scabiosa, and Sedum Larvae bore into stems of succulent perennials and feed on tender roots. Use potato plugs to monitor for larvae during cool, cloudy weather. Use yellow sticky cards to monitor for adults.

Santiation. Eliminate weeds.


Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis


Beneficial Nematodes (Nemasys, ScanMask)

Predatory mites (Hypoaspis miles)

Western Flower Thrips

(Frankliniella occidentalis)

Aster, Campanula, Chrysanthemum, Coreopsis, Digitalis, Eupatorium, Lamium, Lupinus, Penstemon, Platycodon, Rudbeckia, and Sedum Inspect and quarantine incoming plants for evidence of thrips larvae or adults. Tap flowers/foliage over a white sheet of paper to look for slender, winged insects. Use yellow sticky cards to monitor for adults. Check cards weekly to track population levels and evaluate treatments.

Eliminate weeds Maintain 10 to a 20-ft. weed free barrier.




Insecticidal Soap

Rotate between chemical classes every generation

(2 to 3 weeks depending upon temperature) for resistance management.

Greenhouse Whitefly

(Trialeurodes vaporariorum)

Aquilegia, Astilbe, Dicentra, Hibiscus, Lavandula, Lupinus, Malva, Mentha, Mondara, Primula, Salvia and Rudbeckia Use yellow sticky cards to monitor for adults. Powdery white adults will be on underside of uppermost foliage. Larger, more mature crawlers will be on the lowermost leaves.

Eliminate weeds.




Horticultural Oil


Insecticidal Soap


Use "indicator plants" to evaluate treatment effectiveness of insect growth regulators

Two-spotted Spider Mites

(Tetranychus urticae)

Alcea, Aquilegia, Buddleia, Campanula, Gaillardia, Hemerocallis, Japanese Iris,

Lirope, Phlox, Primula, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Thalictrum, Verbascum, Viola, and many herbs.

Overwinter as adult females in protected areas. Look on the underside of leaves where mites like to feed for live mites, and empty egg cases. Look for discoloration of foliage and stippling.

Release of a combination of different species of predatory mites may reduce populations. Abamectin

Horticultural Oil

Insecticidal Soap

Resistant types

of Buddleia include:

B. marrubiifolia

B. davidii 'ile de France'

B. davidii 'Nanho'


Potato (Empoasca fabae)

Aster (Macrosteles


Alcea, Aster, Astilbe, Dahlia, Hibiscus, Lupinus Look for stippling on upper leaf surfaces. Look on lower surfaces for nymphs, and shed skins.



Insecticidal Soap

Black Vine Weevil

(Otiorhynchus sulcatus)

Astilbe, Bergenia,

Cyclamen, Epimedium, Helleborus, Heuchera, Hosta,

Physostegia, Primula, Saxifraga and


Look for C-shaped leaf notching. Look for white, grub-like larvae in the mulch and top layer of media. Overwinter as larvae in the soil.

Against larvae:




Beneficial Nematodes

(Heterorhabditis bacteriophora - Apply in August)

Against Adults:



Four-lined Plant Bugs



Alchemilla, Chrysanthemum, Coreopsis, Dahlia, Mentha, Papaver, Rudbeckia, Salvia, and Veronica Look for necrotic spots on the leaves. Do not confuse with leaf spot disease. Look for yellowish green adults with four longitudinal black lines.



Horticultural Oil

Insecticidal Soap



Wide host range Look under boards, vegetation, and daytime shelter. Control weeds. Keep area free of debris. Proper plant spacing. Horticultural grade diatomaceous earth. (Needs to be reapplied if it gets wet.)

By Leanne Pundt, University of Connecticut, Extension Educator

Abbey, T. 1996. Key Pests of Production Perennials. Yankee Nursery Quarterly. Summer 1996.

Cowles, R. 1995. Black Vine Weevil Biology and Management. Journal American Rhododendron Society. Spring 95. 83-97.

Chase, A. R. And M. Daughtrey. 1992. Ball Field Guide to Diseases of Greenhouse Ornamentals. Ball Publishing. Batavia, Ill. Available from GrowerTalks Bookshelf.

Chase, A. R., M. Daughtrey, G. Simone. 1995. Diseases of Annuals and Perennials. A Ball Guide to Identification and Control. A Ball Guide. 202 pp. Ball Publishing. Batavia, Ill. Available from GrowerTalks Bookshelf. 1-888-888-0013.

Daughtrey, M. & M. Semel. 1987. Herbaceous Perennials: Diseases and Insect Pests

Cornell Cooperative Extension Publication. Information Bulletin No. 207. 25 pp.

1998 Pest Management Recommendations for the Production of Herbaceous Perennials. 36 pp. Insert to Information Bulletin No. 207. $6.00. Available from: Cornell University Resource Center, 7 Business and Technology Park, Ithaca NY Phone 607-255-2080, fax 607-255-9946. Internet Address:

Gill, S. 1998. IPM/TPM Weekly Updates.

Perry, L. 1998. Herbaceous Perennials Production. A Guide from Propagation to Marketing. NRAES-93. 208 pp. Available from: Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service, Cooperative Extension, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Pundt, L. 1996. Monitoring for Key Pests during the Greenhouse Production of Perennials. Yankee Nursery Quarterly. 6(3):15-19.

Quarles, W. 1992. Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Control. IPM Practitioner. 14(5/6):1-11.

Westcott, C. 1973. The Gardeners Bug Book. 4th edition. Doubleday and Company. NY 689 pp.

This information was developed for conditions in the Northeast. Use in other geographical areas may be inappropriate.

The information in this material is for educational purposes. The recommendations contained are based on the best available knowledge at the time of printing. Any reference to commercial products, trade or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended. The Cooperative Extension system does not guarantee or warrant the standard of any product referenced or imply approval of the product to the exclusion of others which also may be available.All agrochemicals/pesticides listed are registered for suggested uses in accordance with federal and Connecticut state laws and regulations as of the date of printing. If the information does not agree with current labeling, follow the label instructions. The label is the law.Warning! Agrochemicals/pesticides are dangerous. Read and follow all instructions and safety precautions on labels. Carefully handle and store agrochemicals/pesticides in originally labeled containers immediately in a safe manner and place. Contact the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for current regulations.The user of this information assumes all risks for personal injury or property damage.Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kirklyn M. Kerr, Director, Cooperative Extension System, The University of Connecticut, Storrs. The Connecticut Cooperative Extension System offers its programs to persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an equal opportunity employer.