Aspiditra pests!!!!

plantsaremylife_grow(5b)January 6, 2012

Where to start? So I have two 14 inch containers of the normal green Aspiditra. They are in medium to bright exposure (no direct light) and are watered about two to three times a month in the winter. I fertilize in the spring and summer. I have had them about three years now and the last year and a half they have become a magnet for pests. I'm about at my wits end with this battle. They collect scale by the hundreds and now show signs of spider mites. First, they start off with little white particles that look like salt on the leaves and they do wipe off rather easy. I never see any of these white spots move. I think they must be a juvenile form of scale maybe? No pics at the moment...sorry. I also notice that the visible scale is very light in color not the dark brown I've seen before. These things literally cover the undersides of all the leaves down to the potting soil. I've done weekly baths (a pain in the butt) to keep the leaves clean and dust free, this also helps control the spider mites. Ive used just about everykind of spray I can find. I've dont the alcohol and neem and Bayers houseplant spray.....useless!

The question I have is--can I cut off all of the leaves and will the plants be ok. Will they resprout new leaves come springtime? I realize this isnt the best time to be so drastic with it being mid winter and all but something needs to happen. Can I then rinse out all of soil and replant them in new mix and leave them in a dormant state? Is this possible? I have four variegated Aspidistras that now show the same problem. My Aspidistras are the only plants in my collection with this problem fortunately...knock on wood.

The leaves look a mess with all the holes from where scale has been and the spider mites have done there damage as well on the underside of the leaves. Eventually they turn yellow and I cut them off. I really don't want to loose these plants as they were rather pricy to buy. They have also become my favorite foliage plants.

Any help is greatly appreciated. They truly are wonderful plants apart from this problem. If I can post pics later I will. Thanks for any help. Kyle

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You can allow the plant to go dry to the point of wilt, and cut the foliage back to the soil line. Place the plant in a cool spot (under 55* is best) and water VERY sparingly - only enough to keep the roots from drying completely, but not enough to stimulate growth - you're shooting for an environmental/situational dormancy due to drought stress.
Around the first of May, bare-root - divide, and repot into a fast draining and well-aerated soil, and start watering again sparingly. Your plant will love it outdoors in open or dappled shade if you choose to try that.

If your plants are in a tight clump, discard plants from the center of the clump at repot time & save those from the perimeter - they will likely have much better vitality and more stored energy.

Suggested fertilizers: Any of the brands of soluble 24-8-16, Miracle-Gro 12-4-8, or Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 (my favorite for good reason).


    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 3:09PM
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Kyle. Make sure your Aspidistras are isolated...far away from other plants.

When you showered leaves, did you add dish soap?
Showering/misting leaves w/2-4 drops of dish soap kills mites, but need two to three applications.

There are white Scale but Mealy are white too.

Here's what cured my Scale problem, the one and only time a new plant was brought in the house, (host of Scale) and attached on two citrus trees.

This remedy was given to me by a citrus grower in Fl.

1 16oz spray bottle, and water
1 capful, Fish Emulsion.

You can divide by half since you only have four plants to spray.
But, it's important leaves are sprayed thoroughly. A second application might be required.

When I make this spray, I also add 2-4 drops liquid dish soap, 'not Dawn,' Hot Pepper, Garlic, Citrus rind/juice.

Insects dislike scents and taste such as garlic and hot pepper. After bugs die, it's rare family and friends will return.
BTW, if you try this remedy, do not rinse after spraying.

Fish Emulsion is organic so it won't harm your plants. Neither will other ingredients. All are safe.
I refuse to use chemical insecticides. For one thing we have birds..birds cannot inhale chemicals..

If Aspidistras were neighboring other plants, please inspect. It there were, they should be sprayed, too.

You can remove leaves, and repot in fresh medium and new/scrubbed pots...
My problem with clipping Aspidistra foliage is they take forever to grow.
If you're patient, it won't matter.

Does every leaf have insect holes? Marred leaves? If all leaves are ruined, repotting and pruning may be your best bet. It's just so frustrating.

Whatever you decide, remember Aspidistra's should be watered succulent-like. Soil should be well-draining and dried completely before watering.
Fresh, circulating air helps big time, too.
Is the air stuffy? Hope this helps...Toni

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 3:17PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'd like to see a good image before diagnosis. Scale insects are not usually (ever?) to blame for holes in foliage.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 10:43PM
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Rhizo, but Spider Mites, might, lol, make holes.

I didn't know Aspidistra got insects. Hmm. Toni

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 10:24AM
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Al- Thank you for that reply. I'm glad to know that it can be done and am going to act on this method. Would it be possible to just put the plants in the basement now, in the dark and let them dry out or should I keep them in their current spots and do as you said above? The temp of the basement is roughly 60-65 degrees I would say. Will that be cool enough to keep them dormant as long as its dark?

Toni and Al- The pots are completely filled with leaves. The clumps must be healthy and happy. They are completely dense with leaves. The centers of the plants are as happy as the outer leaves. When I put them outside this past spring they immediately grew like gang busters. I was shocked as I knew their reputation for being slow growers. At there peak this year I would estimate each plant put out 20 to 25 new leaves. I was expecting a couple new leaves so I was ecstatically surprised. I should have taken pictures! lol. I hope they will respond the same come May!

Toni- I have some FE and man does it stink. I was trying it all summer and it did seem to improve the plants and keep the pests at bay. As a matter of fact I was spraying every plant I had outside with it as a preventative and fertilizer. It just stunk so bad...even outdoors.

Rhizo- O.k. so holes were not the right word in my rush typing yesterday lol. The leaves are full of scars from where scale had been for extended amounts of time. The usual scale wounds I would say scale leave behind. Thanks for bringing that to my attention ;)

So I did some research yesteday and found out its fern scale I have! This article I found was extremely helpful in the diagnosis of the pest. The pic is exactly what I have. The mottling is what I have as well from probably the sprays I have naively used without prior research.

Thank you to you all for the help and taking the time to reply by giving such knowledgeable advice!! These forums are awesome!! Kyle

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 5:15PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Photosynthesis requires water and light, so with light exposure, the plant will dry down much faster & the danger of root rot associated with putting a wet plant in the dark will be much reduced. Alternately, you could lift the plant from the pot & allow it to rest on newspaper for a day or two until the soil dries down to barely damp, then return the plant to the pot to store. It would be better if the plant was kept cooler than 65*, but if that's the best you can do ...... You will need to stay on top of the watering a little more, and you should probably expect some incidental growth that will tend to sap the plant's energy reserves, but if you're careful to keep it thirsty, it should be ok. Make sure the soil is nearly dry before you cut the plant back hard.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 8:51PM
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