White substance on tropical plant - Knowledgebase Question

Louisville, Ke
Question by tdredeem1
November 20, 2009
I have a tropical palm house plants in my basement. I noticed some white substance on the leaves. It that normal for the house plants & is that some type of fungal?

Answer from NGA
November 20, 2009


From your description I'm not sure whether you are finding a white coating (Powdery Mildew - a fungal disease) or white masses (cottony scale or mealybugs). A fungicide will help control the powdery mildew. You'll also want to improve the air circulation around the plant. Mealybugs and scale insects are especially hard to control because their waxy coating prevents many insecticides from penetrating and killing the pests. Rubbing alcohol dabbed on the pests usually dissolves the waxy coating. If the infestation is quite large, you may not be able to control it and may have to resort to disposing of the plant. To avoid the problem in the future, carefully inspect each new houseplant your bring into your home, and put each one into isolation for a few weeks before placing it with your other houseplants. This way, if insects hatch on the new plant you can control them before they spread to your other plants.

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