Do you have plants growing indoors?  National Houseplant Appreciation Day is January 10, and it’s a good reminder to give your houseplants a little extra attention to keep them thriving.

  • Remove all spent flowers, dying or yellowing leaves, and dead branches.  
  • Trim off leaf tips using sharp scissors if they are dry or brown.
  • Wash leaves with warm water to remove dust.
  • Submerge the plant in a bucket of water to give the root ball a good soak.

Take a close look at the leaves when cleaning them.  Do any appear a little pale or have some sticky stuff on the leaves? If you see fluffy white material like tiny pieces of cotton nestled in the cracks and crevices of plant stems you may have discovered mealybugs. 

Feeding on a wide range of indoor and outdoor plants these bugs are related to aphids and scale.  They suck plant juices and produce a clear and sticky liquid that can attract ants. These pests can be hard to control, so don’t delay. Start by taking the plants to your kitchen sink (or outside weather permitting) and give them a blast of water to knock the bugs off the plant. If there are many, cut out the infected portion of the plant and dispose. A solution of rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl) can be applied directly on the pest either with a light spray, a cotton-soaked swab or soft toothbrush, and repeated once or twice to ensure removal of recently hatched crawlers.  If needed, apply an insecticidal soap labeled for use on your plant species.  You may need to treat your plant weekly until you are sure you’ve eliminated the pest. 

Here’s more information on managing these nasty bugs, and other houseplant problems

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