How To Identify (and get rid of) Mealybugs

Mealybugs thrive in warm/hot conditions on indoor and outdoor plants alike and spread quickly from plant to plant. This is THE time of year you will find them on a variety of plants. 

How do Mealybugs hurt my plants?

They suck juice from your plant and over time will cause leaf drop, stunted new growth, and eventually kill the plant. This pest’s waste causes mold growth on the plant which attracts other insects.

What do Mealybugs look like?

Kin to scale, they look like white fuzz on leaves or stems. The females lay up to 100 eggs in cotton-looking sacs you will see on the plant. The eggs will hatch in 6-14 days and the newly hatched mealys crawl to a spot on the plant, insert their “beak” into the plant and begin feeding.

How do I protect my plants?

1.   Keep your plants healthy. A hungry, weak, or stressed plant is more susceptible to mealybug infestation.

2.   Use a systemic insecticide as a preventative. By applying a systemic insecticide to your plant you are protecting it from future infestations. When a mealybug feeds on a plant that has been treated with a systemic insecticide it kills the mealybug. No eggs can be laid, your plant is protected.

3.   Inspect your plants for Mealybugs, look for them at the juncture of the stems and on new growth

4.   Spray your plant with an insecticide that kills mealybugs. This will require more than 1 treatment to make sure all have been killed.

5.   Use both a systemic for long term, future protection along with an insecticide spray if you see mealybugs on your plant. This 2-prong approach will kill the bugs on the plant and prevent mealybugs and other pests from harming your plant.

6.   On houseplants you can remove the individual Mealybugs with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. This would not be feasible for large infestations.

7.   Organic methods include the use of insecticidal soaps, Neem oil and other natural techniques.

How do I know if the mealybugs are dead?

If the mealybug is alive it is gooey, if it flakes off it is dead.

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Fight Fire Blight On Pear Trees NOW!

You’ve seen fire blight on ornamental and fruiting pear trees – brown to black leaves, twigs and branches appearing as if scorched by fire.

There is no cure for fire blight once a tree is infected.  It is caused by bacteria and is destructive and highly infectious and therefore a widespread disease.  

The disease enters a tree through natural openings, especially flowers in spring.  It moves from the new growth to older growth quickly and can be spread from diseased to healthy plants by rain, wind and pruning tools.

You can help prevent the disease by spraying your pear tree with Ferti-lome Fire Blight Spray when the tree starts flowering during spring.  This helps prevent the disease from entering through the blooms.

Once the tree starts showing signs of blight it is too late to spray the tree.  You can prune off infected branches but avoiding the disease all together is best. 

Wild pears are blooming now and the fruiting and ornamental pears will be doing so very soon. Be pro-active and spray your tree while blooming and avoid this destructive disease from attacking your tree(s).

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Applying Dormant Oil

Late in the summer, scale bugs, mites and aphids lay their eggs on a variety of fruit trees, camellias, hollies, citrus, palms and other ornamental shrubs.  The continual drain of sap from these sucking insects can ultimately kill these plants.  

LUCKILY, you can add a layer of protection by applying dormant oil NOW! One application of dormant oil will help control insect populations – it coats the insects’ spiracles (or the pores on its body that the bug breathes through) effectively smothering the future larvae. The BEST part? Dormant oil is less toxic to beneficial insects, like ladybugs, birds and other mammals.

When to Apply Dormant Oil: To determine when to use dormant oil, take the weather in East Texas into consideration. The date may change every year, but the conditions must be the same. Spray early enough so that the buds on the trees haven’t started to pop out — wait until the daily temperature is at least 40 degrees F. and will stay that way for at least 24 hours. Then, choose a 24-hour period when no rain or high winds are predicted.

How to Apply Dormant Oil:

– Cover any annual flowers you may have near the tree when using dormant oil.  

Fill your sprayer with the oil solution and slowly cover the tree, beginning with the topmost branches.

Move all around the tree to get the spray into all the crevices.

After a few weeks, evidence of a scale infestation will still be visible after the spraying.  The “sooty mold” dark color on the leaves and bark has to wear off over time.  The dead bodies of the scale will stick in place and will also disappear over time.

Check to see if spraying has killed most of the scale present.  With a thumbnail pry off a scale and press it.  If the shell is dried, then the scale is dead and the treatment worked. YAY!  If the scale is squishy and is filled with yellow, orange or white liquid then the scales are still living and need to be sprayed again.

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Using Epsom Salts in your Garden

Epsom salt – also known as magnesium sulfate – helps seeds germinate, makes plants grow bushier, produces more flowers, and deters pests, such as slugs and voles. It also provides vital nutrients to supplement your regular fertilizer.

Plants will have visible signs that they are starved for a particular nutrient. If a plant’s leaves turn yellow all over the plant, it can be a sign they need more sulfate. If lower leaves turn yellow between the veins (and the veins stay green), they may need more magnesium.

Epsom Salt is recommended by Master Gardeners and used regularly by commercial growers around the world. Tests by the National Gardening Association confirm that roses fertilized with Epsom Salt grow bushier and produce more flowers, and it also makes pepper plants grow larger than those treated only with commercial fertilizer.

Here are some other tips for using Epsom salt in the garden:

Houseplants: 

– 2 tablespoons per gallon of water; feed plants monthly.

– Frequent watering for indoor plants can cause a buildup of salts in their pot. A tablespoon of Epsom Salt sprinkled on top can aid in flushing the salt buildup out.

– Spray leaves of houseplants to increase their green color, just combine 2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt and a gallon of warm water in a spray bottle and spray directly onto the leaves of the plant.

Roses: 

– 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks. Also scratch 1/2 cup into soil at base to encourage flowering canes and healthy new canes. Soak unplanted rose bushes in 1 cup of Epsom Salt per gallon of water to help roots recover. Add a tablespoon of Epsom Salt to each hole at planting time.

Shrubs (evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron): 

– 1 tablespoon per 9 square feet. Apply over root zone every 2-4 weeks.

Lawns: 

– Apply 3 pounds for every 1,250 square feet with a spreader or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer.

Trees:

– Apply 2 tablespoons per 9 square feet. Apply over the root zone 3 times annually.

Garden Startup:

– Sprinkle 1 cup per 100 square feet. Mix into soil before planting.

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How to Find and Treat Spider Mites

Sometimes big problems come in teeny tiny sizes.

Spider mites are tiny web-spinning bugs that eat sap from the bottom of leaves.  They are super hard to see, because they’re only about the size of a grain of pepper! As tiny as they are, it’s amazing the HUGE amount of damage they can cause. If leaves of your plants look yellowed and have tiny webbing between them, you might have spider mites.

Since spider mites are so itty-bitty, you really have to make sure that they’re the main culprits for your plant problems.  Here’s the best way to find out if these tiny terrors are holding your plant hostage:

  • Hold a sheet of white paper under an unhealthy branch
  • Hit the branch and see what comes out
  • If tiny red, yellow, green, brown, red, or black specs fall on your paper and begin to crawl around, you have spider mites
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Spider Mites like dry, dusty conditions. Spraying your plants’ leaves or needles with water or hosing down garden walkways and other dry, dusty spots will make these small monsters unhappy! Thus, making them relocate. You’ll also want to clean up any extra debris around trees and plants, all the extra material makes spider mites feel right at home. If you pick it up, you’ll remove some of the conditions they favor.

Treatment of spider mites will usually require 2 treatments, 10 days apart using 2 different products.  Spray Acephate and Orthene on your plants and you should end your spider mite problem.  Rotation of products is important in the success of treating spider mite infestations.

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Delightful Dragonflies!

Flying insects are for the most part, really annoying. Mosquitoes bite you, leaving itchy red welts. Wasps sting. Flies are just disgusting. But there’s something kind of magical about dragonflies.Dragonfly_PNG_Clipart-2427.png

Adult dragonflies are what people in the gardening industry call, “beneficial bugs”, meaning that they eat the pesky insects that fly, like flies. They are also a great way to control the mosquito population. A single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day. Dragonflies will also eat moths and smaller dragonflies, and one Asian variety of dragonfly will even eat spiders right out of their webs.

Dragonfly-PNG-High-Quality-ImageNo need to worry about bites or stings with this incredible insect! Contrary to urban legend, dragonflies do NOT bite or sting. They can TRY to bite but cannot break human skin – not even the LARGEST dragonflies can bite a human.

Dragonflies are expert fliers. They can fly straight up and down, hover like a helicopter and even mate mid-air. Dragonflies don’t just chase down their prey as most predators do. Instead, they snag them from the air with calculated aerial ambushes. Dragonflies can judge the speed and trajectory of a prey target and adjust their flight to intercept prey. They’re so skilled that they have up to a 95 percent success rate when hunting.

Think of a “stealth fighter jet” when it comes to a dragonfly’s ability to nab prey in flight quickly, effectively and intelligently. Amazing!

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Grass Got the Summertime Blues?

You’ve been watering your grass all summer long and it may look bleached out.

Make it look like spring again with Ironite!  This granular iron product is simple to apply to your lawn and will make your lawn or plants turn green – not overnight but almost.ironite-fertilizer-mineral-supplement-canada-reviews-broadcast-spreader-settings

You might ask, why not just use some fertilizer?  DON’T!!!  Applying fertilizer to your lawn at this time of the year can burn your grass and can easily stripe your yard.

The Importance of Iron

Plants need iron and cannot properly create chlorophyll without it. This results in poor growth because chlorophyll plays an important role in photosynthesis.  Chlorophyll also gives plants their green color, and the primary symptom of iron deficiency are leaves that are yellow between their veins.

ironite-lawn-fertilizer-hi-yield-iron-plus-grassHow to Apply

A 10 pound bag covers 5000 sq feet and is easily applied with a spreader.

HINT:

Combine a granular ant killer with the Ironite into your spreader and get a 2 for 1 punch.

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Get Rid of Fire Ants (for good!)

Want to learn how to kill fire ants including the almighty Queen in 5 minutes without measuring or mixing anything?   Just attach a bottle of Amdro Quick Kill to your water hose and aim away.  It is just that simple.AMDRO-Quick-Kill-Outdoor-Insect-Killer-RTS-32oz.png

The exact name of the product is Amdro Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer – it may be a mouthful of a name but it works!  It is fast (kills ‘em dead in 5 minutes) and is so easy-to-use.

Attach your hose and with no measuring or mixing you are ready to go – gently soak the mound for 30 seconds.  It is a fast acting formula that destroys an entire fire ant amdro-lawn-insect-pest-control-100522991-1f_1000mound, including the queen, in under five minutes.  You can treat 40 fire ant mounds with 1 quart sized bottle and is safe to use in your lawn, around your shrubs, flowers and trees.  Children and pets can safely re-enter the sprayed area after it dries.

It also comes in a concentrated form which we keep mixed up in a 2 gallon sprayer at all times in the nursery.  When we find a plant filled with ants we spray it and they are dead – it has changed the way we treat ants throughout the nursery.

Fire Ant Facts:

  • Up to 250,000 ants can live in 1 mound
  • Total time from egg to adult averages 30 days
  • Worker ants may live up to 180 days
  • Fire ant queens live from 2 – 6 years
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How to Rid yourself of Snails!

We all know the joy of plants can come at a price, whether it be a plant disease, fungus, or pest. We love growing and caring for our vegetables, shrubs and indoor houseplants, but one snail can ruin a plant in a very short span of time. If you’re not sure if you have a snail problem, or how to fix it, you’re in the right place.snAil

With snails, most of the damage happens at night, when they emerge to feed. They prefer clipping tender, young shoots, but may chew irregular holes through leaves and flowers or feed on soft fruits and the bark of young plants. As they move around, snails leave a slimy trail that dries to a silvery film by morning.

Control of snails is a major problem in all habitats. There are many things that can be done to reduce the potential of a problem occurring. Eliminate (as much as you can), items that are sitting on the ground (as they are possible resting places for these slimy pests) such as boards, boxes, stones, debris, weeds, plants in pots that have runners on the ground or any other items that provide shelter. Reducing hiding places decreases snail survival.121.png

A few options are available to kill the snails. You can treat for snails organically with Diatomaceous Earth or you can also rid yourself of snails chemically. Using a dust or solution that contains spinosad + iron phosphate can lure snails from their hiding spots. Bonide Slug & Bug bugandslugKiller contains both of these chemicals AND prevents those disgusting slime trails! Just spread the pellets around your garden, landscape, or in your indoor plants and start to enjoy your greenery again!

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Powdery Mildew: What it is and how to get rid of it!

I’ve received numerous questions these past 2 weeks asking what is the powdery substance on my plants and what can I do about it.  You will find it frequently on Crape Myrtles, Indian hawthorn, and roses – but no plant is immune.powdery mildew 2  It is the most common and easily recognized plant disease and is both treatable and, more importantly, preventable by using a fungicide – preferably one that is systemic.  The disease is caused by a fungus and is called Powdery Mildew.

Recognizing Powdery Mildew:  It looks like powdery splotches of white or gray on the leaves and stems of plants.  There are different types of the fungi but they all look the same.

What causes it:  The fungi is everywhere – it overwinters in leaves on the ground and begins producing spores in the spring which are carried by wind and insects to your plant.  High humidity seems to play a part in its growth.

What it does:  Although unattractive it isn’t usually fatal to the plant.  It will stress a plant and infected leaves will gradually turn brown and papery and often fall off prematurely.   If buds are infected they may not open.

powdery mildewThe Good News:  Powdery mildew is host specific – meaning if it is on one type of plant it won’t transfer to another type of plant.  For example:  the powdery mildew on a rose bush will not spread to any other plant except another rose bush.

Treatment:  Use of a systemic fungicide has been successful in treatment in the early stages of the disease and even more importantly in prevention of the disease.  Fertilome Liquid Systemic Fungicide II with propiconazole is recommended for use on powdery mildew.

Other Hints: 

  • Choose plant species that have resistance to powdery mildews. Some examples are the powdery mildew-resistant crape myrtles – most Indian names varieties are in this group.
  • Don’t let years of leaf debris build up in your beds.
  • Pruning or removing infected leaves or stems can help reduce the amount of the fungus.
  • Poor airflow to plants seems to contribute to the problem also, so avoid overcrowding of plants in your landscape.
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