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May 2, 2020 10:21 AM CST
Panama
Good morning

I have a beaucarnea recurvata or ponytail plant in kokedama style. I have it since five years or little more longer. I saw today it has some tiny ants when I was watering it.

What should I do?

Opinions are appreciated.

I think I should remove the old soil for a new one, and wrap with the same old sphagnum moss? I can not buy a new one because the place that sells sphagnum moss is closed because of the pandemic situation.
What about a natural insect repellent for ants like garlic?

Please and thank you,

Beatri
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May 2, 2020 11:25 AM CST
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 1
Can you see a trail of ants to your plant from somewhere else?

You can submerge the ball in water (shake it around in there so there are no air bubbles left in the soil) and the ants will leave after a few minutes. Maybe wait half an hour and shake a few times for best results. But the ants will come right back if they have a trail from somewhere else.
Last edited by Baja_Costero May 2, 2020 12:20 PM Icon for preview
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May 2, 2020 1:51 PM CST
Panama
Hi!

My kokedama previously was sitting above a cement ring when I bought the plant. The store sold both items. In the meantime I changed the position. Gradually I moved the plant without the cement ring, to a rack of recycled wood table.

I have other ponytails plants but in their pot.

Yes. I submerged the kokedama in full water as I normally do each Saturdays. Today is Saturday so I did. I saw little ants coming from the bottom of the plant.

I already went to see any ant trails in each plant and surrounded areas and I dont see any. I checked the kokedama by touching every part to see if any ant were coming outside but none did.

Why are these ants in my kokedama but not in other plants?

What I can do ?
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May 2, 2020 4:24 PM CST
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 1
In my experience ants go into my succulent pots for two reasons. One is for the moisture (we live in a dry climate where there is no rain for half the year) and the other is to farm insects like root mealy bugs which are sucking nutrients from my plants and secreting honeydew, as a reward for the ants tending them. I tend not to worry too much about the former, but the latter may actually represent a health problem for the plant (the sucking bugs, not the ants). In either case they live elsewhere but come and visit the plants for food or water. Now our ants are probably different from your ants, but this is just my experience. If I try to eliminate the sucking bugs (using soapy water or a systemic insecticide like imidacloprid) the ants tend to go away, but they will also try to restart the infestation by bringing in more bugs from elsewhere. So controlling ant traffic is necessary in the aftermath of any attempt at controlling the other bugs.
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May 2, 2020 5:06 PM CST
Panama
I went to check again in my balcony where I place the plants for just a couple hours outside to receive day light, and I saw four tiny ants. They were coming I guess from my tenant balcony.

I have heard of natural insecticides like garlic. I can crush some garlic in a blender with water and pull the liquid through a syringe and place it in some parts of the plant, or just take the liquid and brush outside the sphagnum moss. Or pour some drops over the trunk and it goes to the roots.

Or it is better to use the soapy water instead of garlic?

Thank you,

Beatri
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May 2, 2020 5:15 PM CST
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 1
I would not know about garlic, but it sounds like it could be a stinky solution that you might regret that down the road. Soap would be my recommendation. You can use insecticidal soap (Safer brand, formulated for horticulture) like I do, or you can make your own out of mild liquid dish soap (I have read that 1% is a good starting point). If you make your own, be sure to measure. Too much is not good. Thoroughly soak the whole ball in the soapy water, shaking it around for a while to make sure the soap penetrates all the fibers in the soil.
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May 3, 2020 9:57 AM CST
Panama
Good morning

I woke up I went to see the plant and found no ants in there. Meanwhile, and to avoid any ants to coming to my plant, I place it in the wooden rack to get sun light, instead of putting it in the balcony railing where there is a cement along the way and part of the structure.

The plant is still wet because of the water feeding from yesterday. By the next Saturday, I am thinking to soak the whole ball in the soapy water.

Thank you very much,

Beatri
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