Houseplants forum: HELP! Household infested by multiple pests

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Stronghammer
Feb 17, 2018 11:58 AM CST
Hi everyone. I've had the palm for almost two years and always thought the brown spots were from the sun until it started to die. The dracena elephantypes (?) came from Walmart and I thought it was just sand in-between the leaves until I saw the leaves die and a sappy, honeydew substance on them. My Mexican cucumber was also doing fine overwintering until I checked the back sides of the leaves, which keep dying off one by one. I am trying to contain this so it doesn't spread, but it looks like something similar is on my hibiscus (not shown) though it could be a type of fly.

I don't want to throw them out, as they have sentimental value, one being from my wedding. Is there a horticulture oil I could purchase to kill the pests/could someone help ID what the pests are? I think the palm has Florida red scale, but I'm not sure about the others. I live in western Wisconsin, close to the border of Minnesota, so outside plants come in for the winter and go next to each other in the sunniest room.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Name: Jude
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Zone 6a)
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obliqua
Feb 17, 2018 12:28 PM CST
I have used this recipe for indoor insects:

Kitchen insect spray. This all-purpose insect spray was developed by the editors of Organic Gardening magazine and came to me by way of Rodale's Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control. To make a batch, combine 1 garlic bulb, 1 small onion, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a food processor or blender and process into a paste. Mix into 1 quart of water and steep for 1 hour. Strain through a cheesecloth and add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Mix well. The mixture can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Feb 17, 2018 1:18 PM CST
Jude mentions a very popular spray. However, never has worked for me. Try it though. One of your pix shows mealy bugs perhaps. They can be handled with a water/rubbing alcohol spray. Myself, I use Azamax for all my bugs issues. Gene
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 17, 2018 1:22 PM CST
I am confused about just what plants you have and what symptoms they are each exhibiting. A photo of each plant that shows the entire plant, including its pot, would be more helpful than single leaf photos.

There are a variety of Yuccas and there is a Yucca elephantipes, but not a Yucca elephantipes. Palm is a very broad category of plants with hundreds of species.

I have no experience with Mexican Cucumber, but I doubt that they would fare well indoors even just in winter.

There are much easier and simpler safe and effective treatments for indoor plant pests than what Rodale's is suggesting.

Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)

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
Feb 17, 2018 2:02 PM CST
Hi Stronghammer, Welcome!
I agree with WillC; is it possible to post photos of each plant in it's entirety, showing the pot with soil? If we can see the entire plant and the manner in which it's potted, that will help in providing more accurate advice for correcting the issues.

I can't determine exact identify of the plants from close up leaf photos but the issue with leaves #1, #2 and #3 appear to be possibly a bacterial infection. Leaf photo #4 may be a fungal issue.

In photo #5, do the white things move/fly? If they move and fly, it's probably a white fly infestation. Mealybugs usually appear as small white cottony blobs.

I wonder if the plant you refer to as Dracaena elephantipes (Photo #5?) is actually Spineless Yucca (Yucca gigantea) (synonym Yucca elephantipes).

Many people make their own mixture of insect soap for their houseplants by combining regular liquid dish soap, isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and water. I did that years ago but as I've gotten older and lazier, I now just purchase Insecticidal Soap from Home Depot or Walmart garden center; it takes care of many different houseplant pests. Whatever method you decide to use, just be sure to completely saturate every leaf and crevice until dripping wet to be certain to get adult as well as any juveniles and eggs. You may have to spray once, wait a few days to a week and do it again to be sure to eradicate them all.

~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~



Stronghammer
Feb 17, 2018 8:39 PM CST
Thanks for your help, and sorry my first post doesn't show more. I'll take some photos tomorrow when the lighting in the room is better. Plantladylin--I wish I would have included that. I have already made that same mixture at the start of the week and doused the palm and the yucca making sure to get into the crevices. I apologize--spineless yucca it is! On this site, it's listed as a Dracena - Yucca. (can't post a link, but it's on "groundworksbvi" and shows "dracena") I'm not entirely sure about its name, but Walmart sells them every year and I bought it in remembrance of a relative who had one. Never quite sure if it's a dracena or a yucca. The palm should be a Delray Plants Live Majesty Palm Plant. Had it at our wedding and my in-laws have had one for twenty years without problems.

I also know that my Mexican cucumber (sour gherkin) can stand colder temperatures, so I figured I'd bring it in, trim it back and see how long it would live as an experiment. I'm surprised it's still alive! The leaves keep dying off one by one from this white stuff, which I think is eating the leaves. It falls off almost like dandruff. The yucca was very close to it, and I'm wondering if the white things, which do move, somehow infested the cucumber as well. I'm not sure if they can fly or not, but I have seen a few flies on the undersides of leaves occasionally, not very often though. Wondering if a Listerine mix might help? Again, I appreciate the suggestions, and I'll post pictures tomorrow to help identify the causes.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)

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!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Feb 18, 2018 7:57 AM CST
At the Groundworks nursery site, I see a few Dracaena listed, as well as the one labeled Dracaena-Yucca, which appears to be Yucca gigantea: http://groundworksbvi.com/cata...

Here's our database link for growing info (and also photos for comparison) of Dwarf Majesty Palm (Ravenea hildebrandtii)

The Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber (Melothria scabra) is an Annual and shouldn't be expected to live for more than one season so it's probably on it's normal decline. The powdery stuff is probably powdery mildew. If you decide to grow that one again, here's an article on preventing the issue: http://www.veggiegardener.com/...

The actual flies that you've seen may be fungus gnats, which cause no harm to the plants but are a nuisance to deal with. Fungus gnats are usually present when the soil is staying extremely wet. You can read more about cause and control here: https://garden.org/learn/artic...

I will be off line tomorrow, Tuesday and probably Wednesday due to the fact that I'm having cataract surgery Tuesday morning and appointments the next couple of days but I'm sure others will be able to offer additional advice and help.

Regarding a Listerine rinse ... that's something I've never heard of using for plants and not something I'd consider but maybe others have comments on it's advantages/disadvantages.
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Scott
Tampa FL (Westchase)
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ScotTi
Feb 18, 2018 8:49 AM CST
The "Majesty Palm" is more than likely Ravenea rivularis that is grown by the 1000's yearly for house plant sells. as R. hildebrandtii is rarely seen and sold only by specialty nurseries.
[Last edited by ScotTi - Feb 18, 2018 8:53 AM (+)]
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Stronghammer
Feb 18, 2018 10:50 AM CST
Here are the pictures of them potted and from further away.
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Stronghammer
Feb 18, 2018 10:51 AM CST
I'm mostly hoping to solve the problem with the palm. I can take wet paper towels and rub off all of those spots like sand or scabs. Not sure what will kill them if that mixture didn't.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 18, 2018 11:14 AM CST
Your Palm looks to be a Majesty Palm and that is not good news. That is a Palm species that simply does not do well indoors under any circumstances. Yours seems to be doing what they all do when kept inside. I don't think there is much point trying to diagnose or remedy the problem, I am sorry to say.

Likewise, your Cucumber does not look like it is worth saving and it may be a source of pest problems.

I don't see anything in your photos that look at all like a Dracaena or a Yucca.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

Stronghammer
Feb 18, 2018 12:41 PM CST
Whoops. Here's the yucca.
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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
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gasrocks
Feb 18, 2018 12:58 PM CST
Did your Yucca do something wrong that it is being punished by making it stand in a dark corner? Gene
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 18, 2018 1:40 PM CST
Your Yucca is suffering from lack of light, as Gene has pointed out. It is also in a pot that is too large and it appears to have a mealybug or scale infestation.

Move it to a location right in front of a sunny window. Allow the soil to dry one-third deep into the pot before adding just enough water so that it reaches that level of dryness again in about a week.

Mix a solution of 5 parts water, 1 part alcohol and a squirt of liquid soap. Then, thoroughly spray ALL leaf and stem surfaces until they are dripping wet. Be sure the get the solution down into the crevices where the leaves attach to the main stem.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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