white deposits on the leafs and stems of my tropical plant? - Knowledgebase Question

Ephrata, Pe
Question by bright_eys1
January 17, 2010
I have a tropical plant (not sure of the name now) I bought at Home Depot about 2 years ago and did quite well. Recently I had noticed white fluffy cotton looking deposits on the leaves and stalks. Any idea what it might be? It is not looking so good anymore and treating it didn't help. I also tried changing the soil, no go. Any ideas?

Answer from NGA
January 17, 2010


While what you describe might be a fungal disease, it might also indicate mealybugs or cottony scale insects have taken up residence on your plant. Without seeing it, I can't really be sure. Fungal growth can be washed off the leaves and stems but scale and mealybugs will be stuck tight. So first try rinsing the cottony substance off your plant. If it doesn't wash off, you can try killing the insects by dabbing each and every one with a Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. This will dehydrate the pests and in a few days you should be able to peel them off with your fingernail. Both of these pests suck fluids from the tissues of plants and if the population is large enough, the leaves and stems can collapse. Once you get the pests under control, your plant should perk up. Best wishes with your plant!

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