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longgone's avatar

Will you help me cure my plant?

Asked by longgone (17089points) March 17th, 2015

I bought some houseplants two weeks ago, for the first time ever. I am not good with plants. Predictably, neither of them look very happy. One of them had a bit of fluffy white substance around its twigs when I bought it, which I thought was just dust. The stuff has spread now. There are small flecks of white on all leaves, and the substance is bunched up around the parts where leaves grow out of. The white flecks have spread to my curtains, and I’m in a bit of a panic.

You can probably tell from my non-scientific description: I know nothing about plants. Help, please!

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16 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Easy, plants have been growing for a few years. What kind of plant? It sounds like powdery mildew. But that’s usually associated with higher humidity. The white stuff isn’t moving is it?

johnpowell's avatar

Sounds like a mold.. And for the love of god toss the plants outside until you figure this out. Mold is spreading through your dwelling.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Look at it with a magnifying glass. Are they aphids?

longgone's avatar

I don’t even know what kind it is. The white flecks look like tiny animals, actually. I have never seen them move, but they look similar to minute bugs. The fluffy substance could be their nests, if there is such a thing.

@johnpowell Done.

longgone's avatar

Looking for a magnifying glass. Good idea!

janbb's avatar

Looks like you have aphids or mealy bugs. They can be cleaned off and killed. I would isolate that plant after treating it as described in the link until you’re sure it is clear.. Or you can take the plant back to where you bought it. It should not have been sold like that.

I have successfully treated Jade plants with that.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Lady bugs eat them but I’m guess you don’t have a stash living on your porch. Aphids spread rapidly and unless you kill them all they will keep coming back. You will need to treat several times just to make sure you got them all. Some have already laid eggs that will hatch in few days.
You can use systemic pesticides or Sevin dust. (Saying that here will likely get me banned.) ;-)
If you have not had the plant for a long time and have no emotional attachment to it, I’d put it in a paper bag and toss it in the wood burning stove. I would also stick a few Window Fly Traps on the windows to catch any stragglers that are now buzzing around your home. Sorry.

longgone's avatar

My magnifying glass is not that great…but they do look like these guys, which makes mealybugs very likely.

Ungh. I guess I’ll toss the plant. It wasn’t expensive, and I don’t love it yet. What are they doing in my curtains, though, and how do I get them out?

I knew I’d regret getting plants without hiring a gardener at the same time.

janbb's avatar

Take the curtains down and wash them in hot soapy water if the fabric will tolerate that. That should do it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If you get rid of the plants the bugs will die off shortly.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @janbb. A lot of store will take them back if you show them the receipt of when they were bought. They are a pain to get rid of and they spread easily to other plants. I would return them and maybe purchase another plant somewhere else, where they take better care of their plants. Oh, and be sure to take your magnify glass with you next time.

marinelife's avatar

Safer’s Soap will get rid of it, and the plant will look better.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Take a photo rather than taking the bugs back to the store, or bag the plants well.
Please don’t spread them around. That is why I suggested the wood burning stove or firepit for disposal.
The systemic pesticides work but many people don’t like bringing toxins into their homes – and they are illegal in some states.
In about 2 months I will have lady bugs n my porch again and can mail you some but that is too long to wait.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Don’t use pesticides; soap and water will do (basically, it kills the insects by making them unable to breathe). Once you get rid of this plant, keep a close eye on the others. Look into how long it takes their eggs to hatch – it might be a while before you see them if they’re there.

gailcalled's avatar

I treat scale on plants by swabbing the leaves with cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol. But I inspect my plants (8 only and treasured) daily and jump in before things get dire. There is often some sticky residue (that is called honeydew) that can be treated the same way.

Don’t forge to look at the undersides of the leaves next time you buy a plant.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I use rubbing alcohol as well, but I put it in a spray bottle.

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