Ask a Question forum: Portulacaria afra pest

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Greece (Zone 10b)
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Faridat
Jan 20, 2018 6:16 AM CST
My Portulacaria afra has got mealybugs. For the past week she was losing leaves, and I was trying to figure out why, so today I examined her closely and saw the mealybugs on some of the stems. I shook her to get off all the leaves that seemed ready to go, and gave her a good wash. What do I treat her with?
Thank you.
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 20, 2018 9:18 AM CST
A sprayer, with soapy water mix every few days till there gone. About 10 to 14 days.
1 Tbl. Dawn dishsoap with 1gallon water.
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 20, 2018 9:41 AM CST
Is your Portulaca indoors or planted in the ground outside?

Mealybugs are best treated with a solution of 5 parts water, 1 part alcohol and a squirt of liquid soap. However, you have to get complete coverage of all leaf and stem surfaces for it to be effective. If so, multiple treatments are unnecessary.

The presence of the mealybugs is a pretty good indicator that the plant is under stress for some other reason, such as improper light or water. You may eradicate the mealybugs, but still lose the plant if you don't correct any underlying issues.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Greece (Zone 10b)
Houseplants Foliage Fan Cactus and Succulents Tropicals Aroids Bromeliad
Orchids Region: Europe Garden Art Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Faridat
Jan 20, 2018 12:43 PM CST
Thank you for your answer @Philipwonel and the instructions!
@WillC, my Portulacaria is indoors, and it was until today placed in front of a south facing window, getting some hours of direct sunlight each day. I was not watering often, winter watering. Once in two or three weeks. I've read Portulacarias don't need to be watered often in winter. It's in a pot with good drainage and non retentive soil. After I rinsed all the leaves and stems today I placed it in an east facing windowsill, as I don't want mealybugs to spread to my-many-other houseplants. I also watered it, the soil looked quite dry. Sad
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 20, 2018 3:29 PM CST
Your watering information provided here is vague. I suspect you may have been under watering.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Greece (Zone 10b)
Houseplants Foliage Fan Cactus and Succulents Tropicals Aroids Bromeliad
Orchids Region: Europe Garden Art Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Faridat
Jan 20, 2018 11:23 PM CST
The watering schedule was the same as with all the other succulents I have. I don't know if the soil was too poor though, I'll upload an image so members can assess. I will start the treatment with the water, alcohol and soap today.
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Greece (Zone 10b)
Houseplants Foliage Fan Cactus and Succulents Tropicals Aroids Bromeliad
Orchids Region: Europe Garden Art Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Faridat
Jan 21, 2018 2:25 PM CST
Update on my Portulacaria and a question. I have sprayed all the leaves and stems very well, both the upper and the down side of the leaves and everything. I have put her in a separate room, to prevent possible spread of the mealybugs. I now think that my plant was stressed as it was too close to a south facing window and the light even in winter may have dried the soil more often than other sucs I have in other places in the room. It still didn't look dehydrated though, nor the leaves nor the stems. I am going to keep a close eye on her and see how she goes.

My question is, I started the water/rubbing alcohol and soap treatment today, how often do I have to repeat? Should I only repeat if I see mealybugs reappear?
Thank you.
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 21, 2018 5:13 PM CST
It's basically impossible to give this plant too much light indoors (especially during winter) so I don't think less light is going to help it at this time. If you suspect the sunny location is drying out the soil faster than your other succulents, you can water more often. But sunnier is generally better for indoor succulents this time of year.

I agree with Will that the bugs are often a sign you might benefit from changing the way you care for the plant. These are normally quite robust and resistant plants, so maybe look elsewhere indoors for the source of the bugs, while you consider the care of this one.

My only response to mealy bugs is to remove them with a toothpick, 9 times out of 10. Vigilance and mechanical removal are better than any kind of spray most of the time. When I do use soap water (no alcohol) to clean up a mealy bug problem, it's typically in a situation like a tight rosette where I can't see or reach everywhere. I typically do not repeat if I don't see anything happening afterwards. Otherwise every 5-7 days (maybe 3-4 times max) if I suspect a persistent problem.

The most effective strategy is to keep the bug count to a minimum by regular inspection and careful removal of any stray individuals who wander in, and not let them get to a point where they can multiply.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 21, 2018 5:16 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1625646 (8)
Greece (Zone 10b)
Houseplants Foliage Fan Cactus and Succulents Tropicals Aroids Bromeliad
Orchids Region: Europe Garden Art Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Faridat
Jan 21, 2018 5:20 PM CST
I'm grateful for all your advice @Baja_Costero. I will indeed look elsewhere, as I brought in some cacti in the last weeks, I will inspect all of them! Thank you also for the tip with the one by one removal! Your knowledge on the area of cacti and succulents is of much importance in the site! Thumbs up Thank You!
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
[Last edited by Faridat - Jan 21, 2018 5:24 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1625649 (9)

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