Unidentified Plant from Home Depot is dying. Can anyone help?

sail2371December 13, 2010

I've had this plant for about 3 weeks (see picture below), and it's proceeded to lose probably 70% of its leaves already.

A lady in line with me at Home Depot said that the plant should not be watered often. She told me to take it home, give it a good watering, and then water every 1-2 months after that.

We are pretty good at killing plants for one reason or another, but this one just started dying immediately after bringing it home. We really like this one too, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

I also noticed a few sort of fuzzy balls (probably 1/8th inch across) forming on 1 of stalks/trunks/stems (whatever you call them). The almost look like salt deposits, and flake off pretty easily when touched. I tried to take a picture:

Could this be some kind of cocoon for a bugs? Maybe a fungus or something? I count about 8 of these little balls on the plant now. 6 on one stalk, and 2 on different leaves of another stalk. Actually, looking at it again, there's quite a few of them. I'll see if i can get some better pictures. Here is one of a bunch of 3 white spots in the middle of the stems. Best my camera phone can do:

Hoping someone here can help! Thanks all!

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Looks like a "False Aralia" - one of the Dizygotheca types...I can't tell from the images, though.
That should get the ball rolling.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 7:26PM
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You have a plant known as Dizygotheca elegantissima (False Aralia). It is a beautiful plant, but can be very fussy. It likes neither dry air nor overwatering, both of which can lead to leaf drop. I had one many years ago, but mine succumbed to the same problem as yours.

The white spots are mealybugs and their eggs. They need to be removed completely, as they suck the plant juices and can seriously damage the plant. I avoid pesticides, so I would wipe them off with a cotton swab, maybe dipped in a little isopropyl alcohol.

Hope this is of some help.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 7:35PM
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The woman at HD didn't know what she was talking about.
Water once or twice a month?? That would surely kill your plant.

It's important ridding the Mealy. Wipe off with a cotton ball or Q-Tip dipped in Rubbing Alcohol. It may or may not work.

In the future, when buying a plant, inspect for insects before bringing home. Look for Webbing, brown or white bumps that can be scraped off, or white cottony patches.

It's possible your HD's plants are insect-packed. That could be the reason your plants are dying. Toni

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 4:28PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I know for a fact HD will exchange dead or problem plants. I've done so here in NYC; I believe the time period covered is one year.

Mealy bugs are extremely contagious to other plants you may already have. If it were mine, I'd return it & get money back or credit for future purchases.

Toni's right, the person had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. To be watered only once or twice a month would certainly have killed this & many other plants. That advice might work for succulents, but the plant in question is not that.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 4:39PM
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I agree with the advice you've gotten. If HD will give you a refund or credit, please do that and tell them about the insect problem. Then watch your other plants very closely for at least 2 mos.

I'm another one who had a smaller one of these but it's been so long that I don't remember what happened.

I've had mealies twice. Once they came on coleus from a mailorder source. Fortunately, they did not spread beyond the coleus. Recently I found them on one branch of one of those "fingered" jade plants (Lowe's). Luckily I caught them early, cleaned them off and isolated it and treated it a couple more times. I just did a re-check and it seems fine. I believe they had take chunks from several plants to jam in the pot and only one was infested.

I do use systemic insecticides at times but some plants won't tolerate them.

May I suggest that you learn what some common pests look like, such as scale and mealies? It won't always keep you safe but it will help.

Diana in PA

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 6:12PM
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