How to check for pests before buying?

MojaveLove(5 - IL)January 16, 2011

I bought a Majesty palm yesterday not realizing how difficult it is to grow indoors. I'm going to exchange it today (after the Bears game GO BEARS). HD is having a tropicals sale so there are a few others that I can choose from. Unfortunalte the only other plant I noted was Dracena and it the trunk is lopped off and waxed over so it won't grow any taller.

My Q is, how can I check for spider mites? I haven't been able to find an answer to that anywhere. Thanks!

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dellis326 (Danny)

Dracaena will still grow with the tops loped off, it'll grow a branch or two, sometimes more and that'll curve up and keep growing.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 7:04PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Not an easy thing to check for.

The most obvious sign is flimsy webbing over the leaves and small branches. If you see that, look no further.

Next, look for pitted leaves that have a grayish/silvery cast. This is often the result of spider mites.

Next -- well this would get you some weird looks -- take a cottonball, moisten it and firmly drag it over the leaves. If you see a bunch of reddish "dust" on the cottonball (assuming you don't live in an area with red soil), it has spidermites.

Lastly, after you've taken a plant home, isolate it for a few weeks until you can be sure it is bug free.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 9:03PM
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birdsnblooms

Mojava..The Chicago Bears, WON!!!!

Spider Mites..Pale, mottled leaves/Fine webbing. Mealy.. White cottony patches..Scale..Brown, bumps that can be scapped.

Flying bugs..Rub your hand against leaves. If a swarm flys before your eyes, they're a flying insect. Eg. White fly.

Fungus Gnats. They're hard to spot unless soil was recently watered or the plant is super infested.
When watered, FG's, I guess, looking for safety, move fast. Although they're dark, they have a silvery hue when in motion. Toni

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 2:23AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Hi Toni!!;-))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

I have my best weapon with me everytime I run into this. It's called a magnifying glass.

I look at the underneath of mostly the newer leaves and it never fails that I see these suckers. The plants stay right where they are and not a one from the hundreds they have will ever come home with me.

By this time of the year, almost always those palms have mites whether you see them of not and that is why I would not buy one till come spring when you can make sure it's bug free before bringing inside by leaving them and treating them outside . Definatly a mite magnet.

Mike..;-)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 3:27PM
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MojaveLove(5 - IL)

I returned the palm mostly because of the mites I hear it always gets lol

Brought home a Dracaena fragrans, checked it out. It is in its own little spot so anything I missed shouldn't spread.

(Can't wait for Sunday!)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 1:43PM
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GrowHappy(z7 MD)

All great advice! I would also check for tiny yellow spots(mottled) on the leaves. Great indication of mites. I have now resorted to Mike's method: I take my 30x jeweler's loupe with me to the nurseries and since I do a lot of mail order, I inspect all new plant material in this manner as well.

(((((((Hi Toni!!!!)))))))

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 4:45PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

You know. I went to the rollerskating rink the other night and they had black lights everywhere and every tinny tiny white spot as small as almost a small as a microscopic mite showed up.I wonder if a black light would show up pests under leaves, especially if they are a lighter color in nature?

I will try that sometime.

Mike

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 7:07PM
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birdsnblooms

GROWHAPPY.....hiii. I emailed and called you a couple/few months ago, guess you've changed both addy and number..
How are you? God, I can't believe you're here!!! So happy seeing you.
Do you still have my addy? Email when/if you can.
How's Zoey.. And all.
This is weird..I pray nightly. A couple night ago, while doing so, you came to mind. You can imagine the rest. And, here you are! Strange...:)
Hope to hear from you..hugs.

Sorry Mojave. Growhappy and I go back at least six years. We haven't talked about a year.

It's true mites 'can' attack palms during winter, but it depends on the type of palm, and house conditions. European, Japanese Fans and desert palms are hardier than other palms. Some plants are more susceptible than others, but no tropical is infalible.
Humidity and curculating air pretty much keep mites at bay. I make up a batch of home-made insecticide which works as a preventative and kills these suckers on contact.
Unless you're 100% certain your air is too dry, don't fear experimenting with different plants.
Good luck with your Dracaena. They're fairly safe when it comes to bugs, but if it were mine I'd spray the leaves regularly. Dracaenas have the lovliest, fragrant flowers in winter.

Mike!! The amazing magnifying glass. Everyone who goes plant shopping should carry one in their pocket or purse. lol
One thing that troubles me..while plant shopping locally, and spot an insect on 'X' plant, wouldn't these pests fly, walk, jump to neighboring plants? Lay eggs!!!!!
It'd be a huge if not impossible job keeping a nursery free of bugs. Especially from employees who claim they don't use chemical insecticides.
Mike, remember me mentioning a few Clivias had Mealy!!! It was a mistake, not mealy.
Last summer a bag of Perlite got wet. Perhaps I shouldn't have used it, it didn't look right.
Then in autumn, strong winds knocked down many plants. Several Clivias were on the ground..Who knows where their pots ended up. lol. While repotting, I used the wet Perlite..
The Perlite's texture changed. While rushing while repotting, Perlite fell between and on Clivia leaves. That's what I saw, Perlite, not Mealy. Thank God, it wasn't those dreadful bugs afterall.

Growhappy, I hope to hear from you. Toni

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 2:58AM
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GrowHappy(z7 MD)

Hi Toni!!!
I sent an email, but not sure it's right. I tried to do it from memory. It's been a couple of years. If you don't get an email, please click on my name here and send me one.

Shanika

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 6:48AM
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birdsnblooms

Shanika..got your email..
'It's been a couple years?' You're kidding, right? No, don't believe you are. lol.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 3:49PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Toni: What about all the bugs that hop on your clothes and hair and hitch a ride home with you too?lol

You are so right about that! That is why I have now at the suggestions of many here, isolated my plants before they even get near any of mine in clean rooms.

I gotta tell you though. If it were not for the fact I brought a magnifying glass on my last visit with, well, we won't say, I would of brought plants home with aphids mites, amd mealy!

You are way too funny Toni!! I am thrilled to see that all it was is perlite..lol. Your not the only one that has had that happen. I thought I had mealy in my clivia too a ways back, just to realize it was perlite pieces..lol. Too funny.

Take care and hugs to you

Mike

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 4:42PM
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birdsnblooms

Mike, guess we'll have to start hosing ourselves off, outside, after visiting a nursery, before entering our homes!! lol Can you imagine hosing outside at -1 temp? lol

I used to isolate plants, problem is, there isn't any spare space..lol. Summer isn't a problem, since most plants go outside, but winter....

I had doubts using the moist Perlite. Its texture changed. It probably would have been best tossing, but plants needed repotting, so had to go with what was available.

There's a guy here in IL who sells 20lb bags of Perlite for 10.00. Found him on Ebay, ended up going to his house to pick up instead of shipping. Think I have another bag in the shed, if not, I'll have to locate this guy. I hope he's around. A small bag at HD runs 3.99 or so.

Hugs to you, too..Toni

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 3:50PM
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cynandjon(Z 5/6)

I read this in a magazine and I tried it. I found its works.
bring a clean piece of white paper. Hold it under the leaves of the plant and tape the branch. Look at it with your magnifying glass. If there are spider mites you should be able to see them moving about.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 3:01AM
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amccour

"I used to isolate plants, problem is, there isn't any spare space..lol. Summer isn't a problem, since most plants go outside, but winter...."

My issue with isolating plants is that if there are pests, they won't show up until the exact moment the isolation period ends. It's like they just know somehow.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 3:43PM
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birdsnblooms

Cyn, did you walk in a plant store, with a white sheet of paper and a magnifying glass? lolol..
It surely works.

Amccour, I'm in the same boat. lol. No space.
You're right about isolation period.
When there are hidden eggs, they hatch when environment is 'just right.' It also depends on type of insect.
Most hatch when air is dry and stuffy.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 4:08PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Toni!

You hit that right on the nose and must a say you are a PRO at helping many here avoid these critters along with Rhizzo, let alone rid them for good.

You have been there for me with this and I must say, I do not walk around with paper, since most every time I have ever looked for them at nurseries, they can always be found walking on the back of leaves especially this time of year.

I figure if I see just a few mealy, or a few mites on any one plant in there, then I would most likely bring them home on any plant. So my chances of introducing any type plant from a place like that is nill, not even from Logee's..I usually wait till spring when I can just leave them outdoors, since there is lots of isolation room out there and natural predetors to do the job of ridding them..

Who has isolation wards in our small homes...? lol

I thank you for all your ideas, and especially for your input in keeping my plants happy:-)))

Mike

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 4:29PM
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birdsnblooms

Mike, I have 3 options..a hallway and bathroom w/o windows. And the DR which is where the birds live and fly around..they'd munch a plant to the soil line.
My male ate a brand new plant...it wasn't in the house 15 mins when he got it. lol..And Corel Berry of all things, toxic.

Yep, Rhizo is great w/plants..Toni

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 7:23PM
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cynandjon(Z 5/6)

LOL If I know I'm buying plants you bet!!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 1:02PM
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MojaveLove(5 - IL)

Well my plants at home are stlll good, which is what I was asking about. But then....not long ago I found a mealy on an office plant. Dangit.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 3:57PM
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amccour

"When there are hidden eggs, they hatch when environment is 'just right.' It also depends on type of insect."

My other favorite thing mealies do. If you ever see just one mealy, it always means there is more than one. And said singular mealy will ONLY show up after the isolation period ends, as I have already established, and inevitably indicates an inevitable and massive infestation.

Except for those rare occasions when, no, really, there WAS only one stray mealy. Again, I think they do this intentionally to mess with you. Make you paranoid about *that one* plant. And then they go infest something across the house, I guess. Or nothing. It's all part of their game.

(Admittedly I've only ever had this happen with Euphorbias, and rarely at that, but still. Maybe they're more resistant to mealies from all the poison).

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 4:07PM
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birdsnblooms

Mojave..Inspect the plant and neighboring plants the Mealy was on.
Mealy are good finding secret hiding places so check under leaves, between leaves and in crevices. They're a million times worse than mites.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 4:12PM
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MojaveLove(5 - IL)

I drowned the plants in soap and water, to the point that all of the cracks were filled with the teeniest of tiniest bubbles. I also sprayed all sides of the pots. I know this might kill my plants (they are all succulents) but I would rather my plants die from soap and water than the white furry death, because at least I know soap and water will not reproduce unless I make it muahaha

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 7:01PM
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amccour

" I know this might kill my plants (they are all succulents)"

You could just de-pot it and have it sitting around on a mound of dirt for awhile. Sort of messy but it will make the soil dry out a lot faster.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 7:13PM
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