Ask a Question forum→Bite marks in umbrella tree leaves

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UK
Alexb101
May 9, 2020 6:13 PM CST
I recently (last week) changed my umbrella trees pot and added some new compost to this new pot. Ever since, some of its leaves have curled, which I expected because it's stressed, but some leaves are now cut in strange shapes like they're being eaten.

It's 6ft tall and only a few leaves at the bottom and a couple at the top are affected, but I'm keen to discover what it is and stop it before it takes over.

I've had a look at leaves and soil, only thing slightly unusual I found was a couple of hard black tint dots I could flick off the bottom of a couple or leaves.

Any one know what's causing this and how to get rid? Not sure if relevant but he had some rotten roots in his old pot when I changed it (they'd grown through the pot and were trapped under the plastic pot he was in initially, and had become flimsy/dead)

Thanks
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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
May 9, 2020 6:20 PM CST
The black dots are insect poop. You have something nibbling on your plant, most likely after dark.
After it has been darknfor at least an hour, sneak up with a small flashlight and look for the culprit.
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Name: Bea
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bumplbea
May 9, 2020 6:25 PM CST
Looks like leaf cutter bees.
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Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
May 9, 2020 6:31 PM CST
Those leaves of your Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola) do appear like something is munching on them and as BigBill mentioned, it's likely an insect that was in the compost that you used for repotting, hiding in the soil during the day and emerging to feed at night.

edited to add: It kind of reminds me of slug damage so check after dark with a strong flashlight and see if perhaps you see any creepy crawlies. Smiling

For comparison, check out the largest image on this page that shows slug damage: http://www.allaboutslugs.com/h...
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[Last edited by plantladylin - May 9, 2020 6:38 PM (+)]
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UK
Alexb101
May 10, 2020 4:05 AM CST
Thanks guys!

If you have any suggestions on how to get rid of a soil inhabitants? I also used that compost for repotting my Swiss Cheese Plant so I'm worried whatever is in the Umbrella is going to be in there too!
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
May 10, 2020 4:53 AM CST
Yes. I have a suggestion. And it is just that, a suggestion, an observation from some old guy who has been growing house plants for 55+ years in doors. I have never used mulch or compost! Not once, not ever.
I have never had fungus gnats, soil nematodes or mushrooms of any kind in my containers. Never.
I use Miracle Grow potting soil right out of the bag. I adjust that with peat moss if I am growing a fern perhaps. Or for a succulent I use the appropriate blended soil for them. All of my plants do not have 'assorted livestock' in their soil! They never have.

I am wondering if it's the "compost" that draws them? Just a thought.
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
[Last edited by BigBill - May 10, 2020 4:55 AM (+)]
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Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
May 10, 2020 7:40 AM CST
Did you purchase the "compost" from a nursery garden center? Was it a certain brand of sterilized, bagged product or compost that the nursery has on their property that they bag and sell or sell by the truckload? I've been growing plants houseplants for 53 years and I've never had insect problems with plants grown indoors but for indoor plants I only use bagged potting soil and I add in perlite and orchid bark mix to help with aeration and drainage.

Before using any product to eradicate insects, you should find out exactly what insects/pests you are dealing with so that you can obtain and use the correct product. I never advise using strong chemicals, especially if one has pets or children. Neem Oil is a safe, organic insect control for mealybugs, scale, white flies, etc. I always keep a bottle of Neem Oil Spray in my gardening supplies. For Slugs, I've heard people say that placing a small tray of beer near the plant will attract them and they drown.
~ I'm an old gal who still loves playing in the dirt!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot!


Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
May 10, 2020 10:01 AM CST
In the UK, "compost" usually refers to most any potting soil and not what we in the US call compost.

I'm not sure a couple of lower leaves necessarily mean there is a pest about. Remove those leaves and see if more emerge.

I'm not seeing the black dots you referenced. I agree with Lin that it is not a good idea to treat a problem that has not been properly identified.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Contact me directly at [email protected]
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UK
Alexb101
May 11, 2020 4:55 AM CST
Hi all,

Thanks so much for the replies on this, wasn't expecting such rapid responses!

I tried the flashlight trick at midnight with the lights off and saw nothing. However, there's definitely been SOME activity as you'll see in the pics.

Just to confirm what Will said, I am in the UK and I know we use different terminology. I've attached a pic of the bag, but this was what I was recommended at the garden centre for repotting my plants when giving them new homes from their nursery pots. I've thankfully only done 2 with it. Again any recommendations on what to use in future are welcome.

I've uploaded images of what looks to be some freshly munched leaves from the past couple of days and more poop. They're annoyingly getting braver as they're further up now than before. So if you do know of a good insecticide or way to get rid before they start taking over it'd be highly appreciated
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 11, 2020 8:35 AM CST
Thanks for the additional photos. I researched the potting mix you used and can not find an ingredients list. It is probably fine as long as it does not contain non-sterile ingredients such as garden soil or other decaying organic matter.

I don't recognize the pests. There are no common indoor plant pests that gnaw on plant leaves such yours is exhibiting. There are many common outdoor munchers, but I am not familiar with them. Perhaps others can help.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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