Popular in many dishes, bok choy is also a garden favorite among many plant enthusiasts. Unfortunately, while it is easy to grow, you might also see little critters eating your bok choy leaves. Fortunately, we looked at all the possible pests and problems that are ruining your bok choy, and we've got the solutions for you.
Whenever you find holes in your bok choy leaves, this usually indicates a pest-chewing problem. Bok choy is very attractive to many bugs like cabbage maggots, flea beetles, leafminers, aphids, vegetable weevils, and other pests.
You can avoid this problem with the addition of row covers or by rotating the plant crops. If the infestation is bad, you can do different methods depending on the pests.
There are many pests and other issues that can ruin your bok choy plants. Keep reading because we've listed all the possible reasons why your bok choy leaves have holes, as well as the solutions you can do to prevent them. We will also give you a few tips and suggestions on how you can grow your own healthy bok choy in your own home.
What Is Eating My Bok Choy Leaves: And How Do I Prevent Them?
Bok choy, sometimes known as Chinese cabbage, is a cool-season crop that you can harvest in its first year of growth. This vegetable is popular in many Asian dishes, with a flavor profile that sits between the taste of cabbage and chard. It is easy to grow from seeds or seedlings, and it is fast-growing which makes it an easily harvestable plant.
While bok choy is easy to grow in your home garden, they are also prone to many pests. Oftentimes, bok choy leaves are weak against many pests, and they usually end up with holes or half-eaten edges on the leaves. If left without any preventive care, these pests can completely damage or kill the bok choy plants.
For these pests, bok choy is a great source of food. The soft, tender leaves and stems are very easy for these insects to feed into. When you see small holes in the bok choy plants, this usually means that some insects have already begun infesting your plants. Soon, the leaves will have big, ragged holes, and they will turn yellow until the plant dies.
Here are the top 5 most common bok choy pests:
These are small gray or white legless worms with blunt ends and are about 1/3 of an inch long. They feed on the stems of the bok choy plants and leave brown tunnels that start from beneath the soil.
If left untreated, the cabbage maggots' damage can cause the plant to wilt until they die. You will see this when you unearth your crops and see the damage to the roots.
To prevent cabbage maggots from infesting your bok choy plants, place row covers over the plants during spring to prevent the adult cabbage root fly from laying eggs. As of now, there are no effective cabbage root fly insecticides available, but you can try preventive measures like adding lime or wood ashes to the base of the plant to prevent the maggots from surviving.
If you see flea-like insects jumping around your crops, then you probably have flea beetles feasting on your plants. They are small black, brown, or bronze beetles that chew tiny holes in leaves. If left on the plants, the holes ruin the leaves and cause the entire plant to wilt, and slow down their growth.
To combat these flea beetles residing on your bok choy crops, cover your plants with row covers while they are still growing. Use insecticidal dust on the bok choy plants to get rid of flea beetles before they start infesting all the crops.
True to their name, leafminers are small larvae that bore their way through the leaf, effectively "mining" it. They also sometimes cause holes, splotches, or blotches on the surface of the leaf. The adult leafminers often look like flies and they don't cause damage to the plant. However, the larvae they leave on the plant are very destructive and can kill your crops.
There are natural insecticides like neem oil that can kill leafminers. Since bok choy is a vegetable crop, it is important to use organic and natural means as much as possible. Neem oil is a natural way to treat these pests because it directly affects the natural life cycle of the adult leafminers and the larva.
They are tiny, but they can be one of the most destructive vegetable-eating insects in your garden. Aphids are very small, soft-bodied insects that come in a variety of colors. Typically, you will see pale green, yellow, brown, or black insects swarming your bok choy crops. They are tiny, measuring about 1/10 of an inch long.
These insects are pretty easy to remove from your plants. You can manually remove them by scraping them off with your fingers, or you can simply spray them with a pressurized water spray or soapy water.
Yellow sticky traps are also great at keeping them off of the plants. You can also prevent aphids from infesting your bok choy by putting row covers over them.
Vegetable or root weevils are destructive little insects that damage both the roots and the leaves of the plant. They are the greatest contributor to vegetable damage, which is why it is important to prevent further infestation from happening.
Weevils are usually brown or black, and larvae look like white little grubs. You'll see them when large holes appear in your plant leaves.
Combatting weevils is easy, as long as it is done early on in the infestation. Organic methods include using parasitic nematodes or predatory beetles which hunt down and eat the weevils. The chemical approach would be to use pesticides, but this often kills other beneficial insects and animals so it is not a common practice for organic crops.
Aside from these common pests, there are other insects that might be eating your bok choy plants. Tarnished plant bugs, cutworms, seedcorn maggots, slugs, or whiteflies can also affect your bok choy's leaves.
Always remember to check the plant's base and its roots to see if there are larvae in the soil. If you see holes in your bok choy leaves, don't wait until they grow bigger—it's best to take care of pests as early as possible.
What Are Bok Choy Diseases?
Generally, bok choy is a relatively disease-resistant vegetable crop, which is why it is a home garden favorite. However, it isn't completely impossible for bok choy to get plant-related diseases especially if they are not prepared well for planting. Some common issues are soft rot, clubroot, turnip mosaic virus, downy mildew, and leaf spots.
How To Care For Bok Choy
Caring for bok choy is relatively easy and simple. If you are planting bok choy as a fall crop, make sure that the soil is rich and fertile, with good drainage. Soil that is saturated by rain is the best kind of soil you can use for your bok choy seeds. They will be happy being planted under full exposure to the sun.
If you want to have a steady harvest of bok choy during this season, plant them every two weeks in small batches. This will ensure that you get healthy bok choy ready for harvest during the fall.
For those who would like to try planting bok choy during spring, it can be a little challenging because they are prone to bolting or flowering. You can prevent this from happening by planting the bok choy indoors as seedlings. Wait until the cold weather has passed before transferring them outside.
To further discourage the bok choy from bolting, they should also be planted in partial shade with the soil consistently moist. Spring is also the time when most pests appear and infest plants, so don't forget to place a row cover on your plants during the spring season.
Wrapping Things Up
Bok choy is a great vegetable to plant in gardens because they are easy to care for and they are great to harvest. Keep your bok choy plants healthy by placing row covers on them ahead of time before the pests infest them. Preventive measures and proper maintenance will make your bok choy grow beautifully with tender leaves, ready for your next stir-fry dinner.
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