The Q&A Archives: Pest problem

Question: I purchased an aussie tree fern which was doing very well but was having hard time keeping it watered due to the heat. I have no shade in my yard, so I deep in a large pot on the front porch. I was told to mulch the tree with 2 layers of mulch and was advised that the black surestay mulch would be excellent to use.Now my aussie leaves have dried out and are turning brown as if burnt. This is a 6.8 gal pot. I have another 2.74 gal aussie that looks great until closer inspection, a few branches have dropped off right at the curled tip and there are little black micro ant like bugs on the limbs. All my plants are in containers on my porch. The Hibiscus has been infested by the same ant like bugs as well as little white mealylike bugs. The only plants not affected are the aspharagus fern, the bougavalea and the mini sago palm. I also have a plant in the house that I've had at least 15 or more years that all of a sudden have little mushrooms growing out of the soil. My japanese maple is living but has brown tips on leaves and non of the beautiful coloring as before (small 1.5 gal pot) Please help if I haven't overwhelm you with so many problems.

Answer: Joyce,

It is difficult to know what insects you are seeing based on the description. I suspect they are not the problem but rather are just part of nature running around the plants. However you may want to take some in a jar to your County Extension Office for identification. Your plant symptoms seem to point to soil moisture problems. Both soggy wet and dry conditions damage roots and lead to symptoms on the above ground parts of the plant. Dig down a few inches and feel the soil to determine if it is moist or not. If not water well and then wait until it starts to dry out a bit to rewater.

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