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mcbealer's avatar

What is wrong with my money tree?

Asked by mcbealer (10214points) September 12th, 2008

I bought my money tree ( BTW, that picture is not my actual plant) at Ikea about 2 months ago. It’s been doing very well, showing new growth and bright green leaves.

Overnight, it seems like these small, gnat-like insects have invaded it. I discovered them this afternoon, crawling all over the aquarium gravel I have covering the dirt.

I’m not sure what type of insects they are, but they clearly have wings. I didn’t see any on the leaves, just at soil level.

I would like to know if anyone else has run across this, and what my options are to treat and kill the bugs without use of chemical pesticides.

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14 Answers

JackAdams's avatar

If you live in the USA, there are at least two sources for free information for you in your area, besides, of course The Collective.

Every state university has what is known as an Agricultural Extension Service, and here is just one example:

In the above example, you will note that all of Iowa’s 99 counties have a University extension office, which the residents of a particular county may contact, to obtain free (taxpayer-supported) agricultural-related advice and information. Just contact your own nearest state University and request to be placed in contact with the Extension Service. Some of them are listed here.

Also, there is probably some sort of privately-owned greenhouse facility near you, and the operators/owners of such places frequently give free advice on growing matters/concerns, hoping that the recipient of the advice will be grateful enough to throw a little business their way (or make favorable recommendations about them to others) in the future.

Also, you could contact your local 4-H Club, because they state on their national webpage that, “The foundation of our community lies within the 106 land-grant universities across the country that deliver research-driven programs through Extension agents in each of the more than 3,000 counties.”

I hope that the above information may be of some help to you, and if so, please send me a money order, because I don’t accept personal checks.

tWrex's avatar

LoL. I can’t say anything after that awesome post. Damn.

JackAdams's avatar

You’re very kind! Thanks!

MissAnthrope's avatar

There’s a decent chance they are fungus gnats. They’re very common, especially when you buy plants from a center. They’re insidious little things. I kept having outbreaks and finding them in all different rooms. The link above is to a Google search, there’s tons of info there about what they are and how to get rid of them.

hoosier_banana's avatar

Put a mosquito dunk in your watering can. The fungus gnats will be history.

gooch's avatar

overwatering is the problem

MissAnthrope's avatar

Well, sort of. If there’s an infestation of fungus gnats, overwatering will only help them continue breeding. But overwatering by itself doesn’t cause an infestation of fungus gnats. That comes from eggs or larvae in potting mix, really these bugs are super-common and easy to pass around.

If that is indeed the problem, allowing the soil to dry out completely before watering will help break the reproductive cycle and with some luck (providing they don’t find another moist place) their numbers will be reduced.

mcbealer's avatar

Should I repot the plant with totally new soil, or is the pot (ceramic) itself also contaminated? I placed outside on my patio and it’s been raining all day, so at this point, the soil is completely saturated with water.

hoosier_banana's avatar

Use the mosquito dunks, they work, or you could pay more for the same bio-pesticide, BTi, here. You can find mosquito dunks at aquarium and pond centers, hardware stores, or big box stores like Lowes. Trust me, it will work faster and be better for the plant. Just keep the dunk in the can you water with, to be extra nice to the bacteria keep some water in it at all times, too easy.

mcbealer's avatar

well, right now I can’t water it, it’s been sitting in the rain for 12 hours!

hoosier_banana's avatar

Right, the fungus gnats are not going to kill the plant but staying soaked too long might, get a dunk and brew it in the can for a few days and then water when the plant needs it.

mcbealer's avatar

but that will be at least 2 weeks from now-it’s a bonsai. And that’s if it doesn’t get any wetter outside- I can’t deal with creepy crawlies in the house.

Is there a now rather than later solution?

MissAnthrope's avatar

Okay, here is what I would do. I would get new potting soil (has not been used before). Remove the plant from the pot, shaking off as much dirt as you can. Be gentle with the roots. You may actually be able to rinse some of the dirt out of the root ball. Gently set aside on a paper towel or something.

Then, I would sterilize the pot. First I’d wash it really well with soap and hot water, then I would soak it in bleach for a few minutes. Make sure you rinse the pot really well, getting all bleach and soap out. Fill the pot with new potting soil, replant your plant, and water a little. I then would keep the plant quarantined from other plants and also from the site it was placed when it had gnats.

Even if you don’t get all the larvae, it’s a great start. Placing the plant in a different area from where the gnats are now, even temporarily, will help slow down the breeding cycle, it would also give you enough time to get mosquito dunks if you want.

Watch your other plants for infestations.. if you see them, definitely let the soil dry out completely between waterings. That will help the problem a lot. Good luck. :)

hoosier_banana's avatar

Pachira Aquatica(Money Tree) is native to sunny freshwater swamps, it is tolerant of shade and some dryness but should not be allowed to dry completely.

If you are worried about the adults you can use Orange Guard, dilute it 1:3 or 4 if you spray the plant itself, it’s pretty strong stuff.

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