Money tree with collembola or soil mites?

P.MunozApril 24, 2012

I have a money tree it has been really healthy till now, it was five stalks but in a matter of weeks the stalks been rotting, I stopped watering once a week since the first stalk died, but it hasn't improved, last week I notices some tiny weeny(really small, verly able to see it with naked eye) white bugs.We live in California mostly hot weather but lately its been cloudy and moist. I was about to water my plant today, but noticed also has a mushroom sprout on the last stalk. Please help I have other inside plants but so scare on how to deal with the bugs. Or should I just give the money tree up? I have a picture of mushroom, but I cant get the bugs to be noticeable.:(

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Hi. The pot looks too large and soil too wet. That's the reason a mushroom sprouted.
Most likely, your Pachira isn't getting enough light either.

Mushrooms grow in damp, shady areas. Ever see 'shooms growing in a garden? They're usually beneath a tree, shaded, where soil remains wet for prolonged periods.

Would you happen to know its pot size?

Can you give a better insect description? Do these pests live on top of/in soil? Do they move? Have you seen any on leaves? Toni

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 2:57PM
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Yep, I agree with Toni, the pot is WAY too big, and that means the plant's roots are sitting in soil that is staying wet too long. As noted, mushroom growth is a sign of excess moisture. However, they can grow in sunny pots indoors, as sunny indoors is not far off from shady outdoors. I once had some shrooms pop up in my snake plant pot, which was in full blazing sun. I'd also like to note that using peat based soils leaves your plants prone to overwatering, which turns into root rot. It's very easy to overwater with peat soils, because the top dries out, but the middle and bottom can still be soaking wet.

As for your insect friends, as Toni said, it's tough to know without a more detailed description, but at this point, if I had to make a wager, I'd bet on aphids.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 6:29PM
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well they are very tiny white insects, on top of the soil, they dont go as high to he leaves but only on the bottom of the stalk, they move really fast in the morning but as the day goes by they hide or hardly move because I cant see them. The reason for it being on such a big pot its because it was a five braided stalk but as the others started to rot I was removing the dead stalks and never actually thought of re-potting to a small one, I will go to buy a smaller pot today.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Not aphids then, but maybe root aphids or soil mites. Hard to say though without seeing, bit if I were you, I'd do a total repot, removing ALL of the old soil and throwing it out. Personally, I'm not opposed to pesticides, so I would give the plant a spray with a pesticide as well.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:32PM
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Ah thanks Joe, What soil do you recommend I get?

I tried to get a picture of them with an hd camera, but I wasn't able to get them. :( The mushroom have a really short lifespan, only 12 hours.the one in the picture died the same day. Today had a couple of new sprout today but are dying now. Anyways I will replant smaller pot and buy some pesticides just as a prevention and will put my plant on indirect sunlight by my window; well see what happens. Thanks
I am so glad I chosen this forum to help me.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 11:07PM
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I'd bet the insects in/on your soil are Fungus Gnats. FG's are fast moving and tiny.

When soil is constantly wet, gnats somehow get in soil.

If it was my plant, I'd toss old soil, add fresh, well-draining medium, and a smaller pot.

Here's an article I just found:

"Fungus Gnats as Houseplant and Indoor Pests
by W.S. Cransaw and R. A. Cloyd 1 (4/09)
Quick Facts...
Fungus gnats are small, delicate bodied flies that commonly develop in the growing medium of houseplants.
Larvae of fungus gnats feed on algae, fungi and plant roots in growing medium. Adults do not bite or feed.
Fungus gnats can be controlled by allowing the growing medium to dry between watering.
Some insecticides and biological control agents can be used to control fungus gnat larvae in growing media.

Figure 1: Fungas gnat adult.

Fungus gnats (Bradysia species) � also known as dark-winged fungus gnats, are small, mosquito-like insects often found in homes and offices, usually in the vicinity of houseplants. They are considered a nuisance when present in noticeable numbers, but the adults are harmless insects that do not bite. Fungus gnat larvae develop in the growing medium of houseplants and are considered minor pests of houseplants.

Adults are 1/8 inch long, delicate, black flies with long legs and antennae. There is a distinct "Y-shaped" pattern on the forewings. The larvae are wormlike and translucent, with a black head capsule, and live in the growing medium of houseplants."

There's a picture, but it didn't show..

Munoz. Obviously, your watering too much. Your potting mix is probably heavy, and container too big. Even if the top soil looks dry, the soil is staying wet below the surface.

Your choices are to change soil and/or reduce pot size.
Do not water once a week, or on any schedule. Water when soil is on the dry side.

To test soil, insert a thin stick deep within the soil. If the stick comes out muddy, 'even if the top looks dry,' lower soil is still wet, so do not water. Continue checking with the stick until it comes out dry/clean. Only when the stick is completely dry, water your Money Tree.

BTW, drainage holes are very important, even if you pot in a smaller container.

It's up to you, but before using insecticides, change the soil and container. If you water properly, the gnats will no longer bother your plant.

On occassion, if possible, air the room by opening a window, or running a small not direct fan on plants. Fungus gnats love stuffy rooms.
Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 1:04PM
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I am a big fan of "gritty mix", which is a homemade soil. For more info on that, you can do a forum search. Also, the "5-1-1 mix" is another good one, which you can look up on here as well. I use all gritty mix with my plants now, and have not seen a soil pest, especially fungus gnats, which I had in the past, since changing away from the standard Miracle Grow bagged soil. You'll know if you have fungus gnats because you'll see them flying around.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 7:00PM
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Nope nothing is flying around my home ;),and upon searching on the web for gnats; the bugs I have are nothing like that.
They are only small and white and dont change.

But for sure will do as advice.

Thanks for all your help.
Happy gardening

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Joe and Munoz...Yes, Fungus Gnats fly, but they usually hang inside soil.

Many many years ago, a few of my plants acquired gnats. I didn't know what they were until I picked up a plant book about Pests & Diseases.

Gnats NEVER flew around the house, ever. And I know for a fact they were fungus gnats.
I've seen gnats in green houses, where plants are sold.

Anyway, the author explained how gnats crave wet soil, dry or too humid air and not enough or no air circulation.

BTW, this was a little over 20-yrs-ago. Since then, by supplying better conditions, my plants have been gnat-free.

Munoz. I still think they're gnats, but it'd be a benefit to your Money Tree allowing soil to dry between waterings, and supplying fresh air. Toni

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:23PM
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Thanks, Joel and Toni I went ahead and re-potted my money tree in a smaller pot, new soil and will check the water with a stick as Joel suggested. No problems with the fresh air as I open my house windows for most of the day light.

P.S. Toni I looked on the gritty mix and talked to hubby and we will start looking into the supplies. I live in CA so hopefully no problem on finding them. ;)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 7:05PM
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If you encounter bugs like those again, try to poke them and see if they jump. Sounds to me like springtails, which are hexapods (not insects exactly, but close) that feed on decaying matter (like you'd find in too-damp soil with peat in it). You can find them virtually anywhere on the ground outside, and they have a little tail they use to jump when in danger.

By themselves I don't think they usually cause harm, but they are another good indication of over watering/too-damp soil.

There's any number of other things it could be, but a simple test can tell you if it's just springtails, as opposed to something potentially worse.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:57PM
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By the way, Munoz, you might find the forum search function useful for tracking down gritty mix supplies, as people frequently share such details on here :)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:01PM
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