There has been a trend recently of people wanting to fight insect infestations by organic/natural methods with the emphasis on companion planting and using Poached Egg Plants in particular. The problem with that as far as I can see is that there doesn’t seem to be much relevant information out there so I thought it was about time to dedicate a post on the subject.
What Is A Poached Egg Plant
The Poached Egg Plant (Latin name Limnanthes Douglasii) is an annual plant with open flowers that are white around the outside with a yellow middle that resembles a poached or fried egg (as seen above). The Poached Egg Plant has a very shallow root system which means you don’t have to worry about struggling to get rid of them if they begin to overcrowd the growing area. The main reason the Poached Egg Plant has become so popular is because of the benefits it can bring when companion planting.
So what does it do?
What Is Poached Egg Companion Planting And Why Do It
First I want to give a brief explanation on Companion Planting. Companion planting is a system of growing plants of various varieties together as a means of using each other to grow better, stronger and healthier (more on that here).
The main benefit of Companion Planting with Poached Egg Plants is that they attract beneficial insects like: Hover flies, Lacewings and Ladybirds (Ladybugs).
These beneficial insects along with their larva will feast on the Aphids (which attack plants) leaving your plants in a much healthier state and able to grow unimpeded.
What Do Aphids Do To Your Plants
Aphids feast on the soft growth of plants – either the leaves, stems, flowers or stalks and suck out the sap which is intended to feed and nurture the plant. This, of course, leaves the plant vulnerable to all number of viruses and infections. If the plant survives the attack it will be unable to produce good quality fruits or vegetables.
On another note
Aphids secrete a faecal liquid known as Honey Dew which is a sweet, sticky substance that ants feed on. Ants often “farm” aphids, moving them onto plants just so they can produce more honey dew for them to eat. Honey dew can also develop into a black mould that can hinder plants ability to photosynthesise.
What To Plant Poached Egg Plants With
I can’t think of many plants that don’t get attacked by aphids of one type or another, so companion planting with poached egg plants is almost always going to be a good idea. There are hundreds of different types of aphids that attack different plants, the good news however is that the hover flies, lacewings and ladybirds don’t discriminate – they’ll eat them all. Some plants are more prone to attack than others and in my own personal experience the main plants at risk are:
- Broad Beans
- Runner Beans
- Dwarf Beans
Bare in mind, this is not an inclusive list, just what I have had good results with (let me know about your experiences too!)
How To Grow Poached Egg Plants
Poached Egg Plants are fairly resilient and will grow pretty much anywhere, however
they prefer to be planted in full sun light and in soil that drains easily.
In the UK sow seeds between March and June and expect flowers from June to September. Poached Egg Plants can be sown directly into the soil. Simply prepare the soil by clearing weeds and raking to a fine tilth (a fine crumbly texture). Make a trench roughly half an inch deep and sow your seeds, cover with soil and water in.
Keep the area moist but not waterlogged and in about ten to fifteen days your Poached Egg Plants will start appearing. Once they have established, even though they are annual plants (only grow for one year) they are very prolific seeders so you should maintain a steady supply every year.
Alternative Plants To Poached Egg Plant Companion Planting
Other plants can be used as attractors for hover flies, ladybirds and lacewings these include:
Although I have always found my best results have come from Poached Egg Plants, which are also much prettier and pleasing to the eye.
Another way to deal with aphids without going down the chemical route is planting a sacrificial Nasturtium plant which seem to attract aphids like no other. This means that the Nasturtium plant will take the brunt of the attack leaving your plant you are trying to protect, safe. This is an effective way but slightly unfortunate as Nasturtiums are also extremely pretty (and edible).