Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants

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I'm fairly new to this gardening lark and have just got my first flower bed looking reasonable (for its first year although I need to start filling it out to give a longer season of colour).

I've got a beautiful honesty plant that a friend gave me and which was doing really well but when I looked at it this morning it's a skeleton at the top.  It is difficult to see the remains of the leaves for caterpillars :-(

I don't really agree with using chemicals unless I have to but what should I do?  Will the caterpillars eventually kill the plant or will they just ruin it for this year and it'll bounce back next year?

Should I get rid of the little munchers or just leave them?  I know we should be encouraging butterflies and I want to do this but if these are moths I'm not so keen (can't stand the things).

Advice please.

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tode

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2009, 11:01 »
I would say keep them as long as they're not cabbage whites (Try Googling "cabbage white caterpillar" for pictures).
We have quite a bit of honesty, which resows itself profusely, but never seen any caterpillars on em. Strange.

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SG6

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2009, 11:50 »
As best I recall honesty is an annual and will reseed itself everywhere, to the extent of becoming a nuisence.

Also never heard of catapillers being a problem on it.

Any chance that it is not honesty? I ask as you describe it as a beauitiful plant and the honesty I remember was always a single stem plant of no great substance.

Will admit here that I could have the wrong plant going round my head.

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2009, 12:50 »
Almost certain they are honesty.  The friend who gave me the plants is a (very knowledgeable) garden fanatic whose garden I would kill for.

She described them to me as 'having silver pennies' in the autumn which made me remember them as honesty.  But I'm happy to be corrected.

I've also had a look on the web and the photo I found of a plant match my (ex) leaves.

Assuming they are honesty I haven't got any 'silver pennies' or signs of flowers :-( and now no leaves either.  I'm fairly sure they're cabbage whites as well so shall I get the whole lot out and get rid of it?

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tode

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2009, 13:45 »
Been thinking about it, and ours have lilac/pale purple flowers in Spring, 4 petals, rather like a cabbage flower. Makes me wonder if they're in the cabbage family, in which case they could be cabbage whites.
I often work on the (unscientific) principle that little worm-like caterpillars are to be zapped, and anything that is big or vaguely interesting should be kept.
Dont know why yours haven't flowered: ours are in dry soil at the foot (and in between) bamboo, so quite shady. Flower and fruit well.
Not sure whether annual or perenniel, never paid attention.
Can send you some seeds if you like, at the end of the year.

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SG6

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2009, 15:29 »
The silvery pennies makes it honesty. Last grown anywhere near me many years ago, and I can recall that they would selfseed quite extensively.

I cannot help as I know of nothing that would eat it as described, always was a tough little plant. Equally a hungrey catapillar will eat most things and butterflies tend to lay the eggs on suitable plants for their catapillars. If it has produced seed then it will grow again from this.

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goodegg

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2009, 17:14 »
spray it with malt vinegar

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mumofstig

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2009, 21:13 »
An Honesty plant that grew from seed this year will not flower till next as they are biennial
Quote
Gardener's Network Tip: Because Lunaria are biennials, if you want flowers every year, you have to plant them two years in a row.
The plant germinates and grows leaves in the first year, and flowers in the 2nd :)

If your plant has already flowered and seeded this year, then you may have plants next year and flowers the year after. If it has not flowered this year, then you must squish the caterpillars so that the plant lives to flower next year. :)
Lesley x
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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2009, 10:12 »
Thanks Mumofstig you seem to have explained it completely (I certainly haven't had any flowers this year which I couldn't understand from other postings).  Thanks to everyone else as well as everyone seemed to have part of the answer.

I shall be buying a large bottle of malt vinegar on my way home this evening.

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sunshineband

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2009, 19:02 »
Honesty is a Crucifera like brassicas (four petals in a cross shape) so they might well be cabbage white caterpillars.
From the sound of the damage they are Large Whites, and TBH it is quite easy to pick theof and toss them somewhere for the birds to eat......... not towards your cabbages though  :lol: :lol:
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mumofstig

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2009, 19:19 »
Quote
I shall be buying a large bottle of malt vinegar
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Honesty is a Crucifera like brassicas

Pickled cabbage :lol: :lol:

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BobandJack

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2009, 17:46 »
The Orange Tip butterfly feeds on Honesty, it's not a pest in the way that Large & especially Small Whites are, please don't spray it with vinegar until you're sure what it is you're spraying.  You can google it for identification.  We have surprisingly few native butterflies in the UK & they are almost all under threat.  As others have pointed out, honesty is a biennial plant & a very prolific self seeder, if you've had flowers on it already then it's already finished & would die off naturally.  Can you scrounge a load of seeds from the person who gave you the plant in the first place?  Like other biennials you need to have plants in their first & second seasons to ensure you get them every year & then maybe you can spare one for the Orange Tips.  :)

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oddpaws

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2009, 18:27 »
If I remember correctly and have the right plant....it will self seed. We started with one and now have them popping up everywhere, as I seem to remember we used to make jewellery out of them. I think this is the plant that you guys are talking about :blink:
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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2009, 18:29 »
I have checked and they are without doubt Cabbage Whites. 

The vinegar didn't work.  they wriggled around a bit and then got back to the task in hand of munching their way through my plant.

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sunshineband

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Re: Advice please as caterpillars eating my honesty plants
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2009, 13:40 »
The Orange Tip butterfly feeds on Honesty, it's not a pest in the way that Large & especially Small Whites are, please don't spray it with vinegar until you're sure what it is you're spraying.  You can google it for identification.  We have surprisingly few native butterflies in the UK & they are almost all under threat.  As others have pointed out, honesty is a biennial plant & a very prolific self seeder, if you've had flowers on it already then it's already finished & would die off naturally.  Can you scrounge a load of seeds from the person who gave you the plant in the first place?  Like other biennials you need to have plants in their first & second seasons to ensure you get them every year & then maybe you can spare one for the Orange Tips.  :)

Orange Tip caterpillars feed on the seedpods, rather than the leaves I think  :unsure:



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