MAJEST PALM INDOOR CARE - Knowledgebase Question

Collinsville, Il
Question by tonyandbob26
May 13, 2010
I just noticed that my Majesty is doing so well but the leaves are showing a shiny-sticky film. I have put rubbing alcohol on cotton pads and wiped over the film and noticed minute nat-like flying around soil..what can I do to kill them, a spray? I got it last Fall at Home Depot and cherish it. What fertilizer to use? HELP PLEASE! Thanks, Bob


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Answer from NGA
May 13, 2010

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Sticky film usually inidcates an insect infestation, typically either mealybugs or scale. Check your plant for small, soft bodied pests along the stems or on the undersides of the leaves. Mealybugs look like tufts of cotton; scale insects often look like flat disks stuck to the leaves or stems (check top and bottom of foliage.) These pests can be treated with commercially formulated insecticidal soap, or can sometimes be rinsed off with a spray of tepid water or gently removed by hand. Take care that your plants are not overfertilized and that they are receiving enough sunlight, as weak growth tends to be more susceptible to aphids. Scale can be carefully (and tediously) removed with the finger nail and/or sprayed with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil per the label directions. Scale can be difficult to control so it may be worthwhile to isolate that plant while you are trying to treat it. Always read and follow all of the directions for application of soap or oil and reapply as indicated. Cover all portions of the plant from top to bottom when you spray, including the stems and undersides of all the leaves.

The flying insects sound like fungus gnats. Fungus gnats feed and breed in decaying organic matter so the potting soil used for houseplants provides an almost perfect environment for them. They are opportunists and tend to fly in when doors and windows are open. There's really nothing you can spray to keep them from entering your home, but you can eliminate their breeding and feeding sites indoors to keep the population under control. One of the easiest ways to control them is to place a barrier between moist potting soil and the little pests. You can simply cover the soil with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or cover the top of the soil with pea gravel or decorative rock such as those used in aquariums. Whatever you use, make sure there are no tiny entrance holes for the gnats - they're sure to find them. To capture any that are just flying around you can prop yellow sticky traps at foliage level. For some reason the color yellow attracts them and if you smear a piece of bright yellow construction paper or poster board with petroleum jelly the gnats will land on it and get stuck. Replace the sticky traps every few weeks and eventually you?ll reduce the population of gnats in and around your houseplants. Both of these solutions are child and pet-friendly and both work for me and my houseplant collection. Another option is to use Gnatrol as a soil drench. Best wishes with your palm!

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