Murraya Paniculata - Knowledgebase Question

Toronto, On
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Question by vivbod
December 14, 2006
Dear NGA expert,

Thank you for your prompt reply of yesterday regarding my Murraya Paniculata. I forgot to tell you that the leaves that the plant is loosing are not yellow, they are green , but look like older leaves and not new growth. This morning I was examining the branches and leaves to check for any bug activity, a couple of tiny new branches that had newly formed just broke off very easily as my hand was brushing against it. What makes branches get weak? Should I prune branches that have 2-3 leaves or no leaves at all on them. There are a few branches about 2 or 3 inches long that are bare at different parts of the plant. Can pruning be done anytime of year or only in Spring .
I feel sad as the plant was doing great visibly until now , but with the sticky film that is on the leaves, which started only a month ago,I don't know if the plant will be healthy again. I don't know what I did wrong in the past month. The pot is resting on pebbles in a bigger pot with water just below the top of the pebbles as suggested, I water it only after I stick my finger in the soil to check the moistness, and if it is medium then I water . I don't let it get too moist or too dry.
I plan on putting the plant in the shower on a slant with the pot outside obviously, and just with the shower head spraying on the leaves all over, probably a few days in a row to get rid of that sticky substance and or any bugs that are there. It is impossible to rub each leaf as they can be damages or torn off. Do you think this is O.K. to do?
When I bought this plant and it was doing well I was happy , now I'm loosing my confidence and I think I will soon join all those people whose letters I read at your sight saying the plant was doing well and now it has lost all it's leaves what should I do?
Anyway I've taken so much of your time again. If you can just answer this one more question , I would appreciate it.

Thank you

Vivian B

Answer from NGA
December 14, 2006
Based on your description I think it is due to insufficient light. The fragile new growth can also be related to lack of light especially if combined with excessive fertilization. Increase the amount of light the plant receives. Set it in a southern or western facing window, or better yet a room with windows on two sides. Or, consider using a supplemental plant light or even fluorescent lighting.

You can try to rinse it in the shower (although a handheld sink sprayer is easier.) Use tepid water and cover the soil with tin foil so it doesn't wash out and clog your drain. If this is just to rinse off the stickiness, I would suggest using a hand sprayer or spray bottle instead. You should be able to see aphids with the naked eye on the tips of the new growth, and spider mites would cause yellowing of the leaves and also fine webbing along the foliage and stems. If you do not see either of these, rinsing would not help stop a pest problem.

The pebbles and water would not be helpful in a cachepot as you described. The pebbles would be more effective placed in a wide flat tray (such as a cookie baking sheet) so more water surface is exposed to the air and steadily increases evaporation all around the plant.

Good luck with your plant.

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