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Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2002
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by umparo on December 08, 2002 04:19 AM
i keep my potted gardenia on my lanai. i live in florida. this morning while i was visiting my plants i noticed a sticky white substance on my gardenia, it is mostly at the top of each branch, sort of near where the new growth is. otherwise it looks fine. can somebody please tell me what this nasty substance is and how do i deal with it?
by Will Creed on December 08, 2002 03:19 PM
Does the white stuff have a cotton-like texture to it?
by umparo on December 09, 2002 12:53 PM
thank you for responding, yes this does have a "cotton" look, but when you touch it, it is stringy & sticky. oh, i hope it's not that southern blight someone else was talking about. any info is greatly appreciated. thank you
by Will Creed on December 10, 2002 04:32 PM
Your description fits mealybug. The difficulty with treating mealybugs is that there is always more to deal with than meets the eye. Young mealybugs lack the telltale cotton-like protective coating and they are skillful at hiding in nooks and crannies where leaves and stems join.

The key to successfully eradicating these creatures is to spray the ones that are out of site. That means that whatever treatment you select, you must get complete coverage, to the drip point, of all leaf and stem surfaces. If you miss a few, they will live to breed another day.

I do not recommend any pesticides because they are all hazardous to use and not 100% effective against mealybugs. The best non-toxic treatment for mealybug is called Brand X foliage cleaner (Yes, that's for real). It is available through Southwest Plantscape Products in California ( Their phone is 1-800-333-7977. It is a silicon-based product so it is very slippery. Its ability to penetrate is probably the key to its effectiveness because it gets into the tiny crevices that other sprays miss.

You may want to try spraying with rubbing alcohol. Mix 1 part alcohol with 8 to 10 parts of water. It is also best if you repeat this treatment again in 5 to 7 days to catch any crawlers that you missed the first time. After that, you should check your plant weekly to see if they return.

Another option is to wash the plant down with soap and water. Use the same dilution as when washing dishes. Apply in the same manner as rubbing alcohol.

Good luck!

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