10 January 2013


It was a good thing I did a close inspection of all the plants today, misting and cleaning off dead foliage. Because I found some problems. First, the little Mint cuttings still have aphids. All the larger, older leaves had ugly brown spots and were dry, brittle. I pinched them off, sprayed the thing heavily with soapy water (hard enough to knock a few more weak leaves off) and put it back outside. Maybe the cold nights will kill those bugs again.
In fact, I wondered if perhaps I ought to bring the other mints inside until aphids appear (if they're infested with eggs as well) then whisk them back outside to let the cold kill the bugs. If that works. But it would risk spreading aphids to my other plants.

Then I found that the Crotons have spider mites. I thought their leaves looked a bit dusy so started washing them, wiping off with damp paper towels each leaf. Saw a hint of webbing where the petioles meet the main stem. Then dashed to the computer to look up the symptoms and signs of mites, I have a horror of those things. You hold white paper under the foliage and tap the plant, if specks fall on the paper, especially if they are tiny reddish specks that move when you look close enough, that's mites.

Luckily mine don't seem badly infested, or the recommendation is to just throw the plant away. Because they spread like crazy. So I wiped each leaf with rubbing alcohol, then with water again to rinse, then sprayed it with soapy water until all dripping. It was looking so lovely, too! Recently the new foliage has gone from this
to this in just a few weeks.
The lower part of the stems are still bare in spite of top-pinching so I keep the two sitting on the floor, where they are quite attractive when you look down on them.
Then I went and checked all my other plants.

The mini Schefflera had a hint of mites. I wiped that one clean, too- a bit tricky with the small, intricate foliage.
The Dieffenbachia has some mites. I'd been thinking it was looking rather pale and dusty lately, peaky. Cleaned that one, too. Misted it a lot, dripping all over the floor.
And to my dismay the Cyclamen also appears to have mites. Leaves curling down is a symptom, which makes me feel bad because that means this poor plant has been suffering for months.
In this case the only treatment is to throw the plant away, treat with harsh pesticides, or give it a bath. As in, full soaking, foliage and all. At 110° F. I got the info here, which every other website I looked at for info pointed to. So I decided to try it. A bit of trouble for a five-dollar plant but I'm fond of the poor thing and wanted to see if it would work. First I pulled off all the misshapen foliage. It's quite reduced now.
Then heated all the water to the right temperature (glad I have a candy thermometer, though I can't remember what I first bought it for now) and dunked the plant. Even after the soil was fully saturated (and less floated to the top than I expected) it kept trying to float up so I had to gently hold the leaves down under the surface.
Cyclamen doesn't like its foliage wet (it's one of the few I don't include in plant spa) so after the bath I carefully dried each leaf, top and bottom. I hope the hot water didn't kill the plant. And that the mites are dead. None of the plants seem too bad, so I hope I can keep this under control.

Unfortunately my Bell Pepper plant and a number of the Parlor Palms also look peaky. I checked them all several times today but couldn't find any signs of mites, or other pests. Will keep looking closely.

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