NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR JANUARY 12, 2008
BY GLADYS JEURINK
In spite of my
efforts to keep bugs out in the fall, I always end up with the same ones
such as FUNGOUS GNATS. The
larvae enjoy living in damp soil of the pots without being noticed.
Most of them are harmless, just an annoyance as the adults fly up
when you water or work with the plants. The larvae like to eat on
decaying material such as compost or decaying roots.
If you can let your pots get dry enough, the larvae will dry up
and die. Otherwise you can use a systemic insecticide in the pot as it
is almost impossible to hit the tiny adult “flies” with a spray.
You will need a nice warm day to set the plants outside, as
systemics smell terrible. My dog Pepper seems to be allergic so I like
to leave them out for several hours until the odor is gone.
My next most
common enemy is the scales that I have
complained about before. They
are not fussy about which plant to suck up the sap but seem to prefer
the ones that have hiding places such as the CLIVIA
as they creep down between the tight spaces at the base of the leaves.
As they drink they use the protein in the fluid but excrete the
carbohydrates which makes the leaf sticky.
This in turn causes sooty mold which is a black, soft, ugly area
that keeps light from the leaf thus affecting its food making ability.
I keep a spray bottle of alcohol to soak the leaves and run down
into the cracks for bad infections.
The spray will destroy the babies if you can find them before
they settle down to “drink” and develop the waxy covering. If I see
just a few, I use a swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to soak into that
shell that a light spray cannot penetrate. I wait an hour or so and then
put the entire plant in the shower to remove the alcohol. There are
other colors but I usually have the brown ones.
you have a HIBISCUS you are
almost positive to get white flies who belong to the same family as scale.
They like warm rooms and high humidity.
The many eggs are laid on the under surface of the leaf and the
larvae attach themselves and drink.
Therefore, you need to check under the leaves for very tiny
“lumps”. The adult flies like to hangout there too and fly up if
disturbed. They are
attracted to yellow sticky traps but you will only thin the colony so
again, systemics will do a better job. They don’t reproduce as well in
cooler temperatures so the greenhouse at 60 degrees F. isn’t bothered
as much as that big South window of mine.
A number of insecticide sprays will kill them but it is a little
hard to hit a flying target. However, you can get the larvae. I
sometimes soak them as good as possible with insecticidal
soap and then shower them as hour or so later.
One time is never enough so I repeat every ten days to 2 weeks.
BUGS (those white fuzzy ones) are like the scales in that they creep
into areas hard to get to. For
me their favorite plant is the CLIVIA,
but they are easier to dislodge than scale. A swab dipped in rubbing
alcohol will kill, and then I drag them out with only a mild infection.
But if there are many, I spray the entire plant so that it runs into the
small spaces. I read about root
mealy bugs living in the pot and drinking the root sap, but
fortunately I have not had them. It
involves working all the soil off the root, cutting out the damaged
parts, dipping them in an insecticide, and then repotting.
I would probably find it easier to take a cutting and throw the
rest of the plant out.
like to come into the house by way of the window wells to get to my
plants under lights in the basement. They don’t harm plants themselves
but are great “farmers” of aphids who drink the
sap and then excrete honeydew to feed the ants. Anything like that crawling around can carry any diseases to
other plants. They do like
to build their nests in pots. The
tunnels will dry out the roots. There are many ant sprays in various
stores but if you have a new plant that may be harmed, do a leaf first
and wait a day or so to see if it will do harm.
My large leafed
plants such as ANGEL TRUMPETS (Brugsmania
species) are a favorite target of spider
are speckled (feces) looking and tiny webs are visible. In a bad
infection the leaves drop. Since my ANGELS
stay in the garage during winter this is extra bad as the plants are
surviving the cold as well as feeding the mites. On a warm day, I can roll the big pots outside and use the
hose as water seems to be the best cure.
During summer dry spells outside, spider
mites can cause tons of damage to a number of plants.
The DWARF ALBERTA SPRUCES seem
to get hit the most.
TO MAKE ROCKS LOOK OLD
Someone asked me the
other day how to make rocks look old. The way I do this is to put a
quart of buttermilk in the blender along with a handful of real moss
(not peat moss or sphagnum moss). Blend
this long enough to break up the moss and pour.
Then paint this mixture on the object and put in a shady place.
Moss grows naturally in a shady, acid area. In Nebraska, finding
real moss is not always easy.