Pollen beetles don’t eat sweet-pea flowers, it’s just their presence inside the blooms when a bunch has been picked for a vase that is disappointing.
If they are for personal display at home, it’s bad enough but when an exhibitor discovers them hours before blooms are due on the show bench, it is very trying.
When the lady of the house picked some beauties last week and discovered the beetles inside, she knew exactly what to do. They were placed on a bench in the garage set well away from the window and left overnight.
Next morning, the beetles had migrated to the light, leaving the flowers clean.
It’s an old trick picked up from friend Jim who is a top exhibitor and it works.
Jim tells me that two weeks ago he picked one of the best sweet-pea bunches ever and there was no show to take them to. And just to demonstrate how quickly a sweet-pea grower’s fortunes can change with the weather, he also has pollen beetle trouble and anticipates bud-drop. One exhibitor who did have a show for his beauties was Keith Thompson of Hertfordshire. He won £500 for ten blooms in Mr Fothergill’s national sweet-pea competition at Capel Manor College. His favourite blooms are Gwendoline and Alan Titchmarsh. £500 was also on offer for the best postal entry, Mr Fothergill’s insisting that the blooms be sent in two litre, plastic soft drinks bottles. A spokesman for the firm said: “Not one of the 34 postal entries was damaged.”
Friend Jim didn’t send any, but might be tempted to do so next year.