BY JANE WRIGGLESWORTH
Stuff NZ Newspapers
Pests are not as common indoors as they are outside, but they do occur. Deal to them immediately. If you let them get out of hand they can cause serious damage or even plant death. Keep plants free from crippling disease, common pests and brown spots with good housekeeping. Scale Insects Scale insects are small, hard, brown disc-like insects that cling to stems and leaves, especially on the veins. Scrape them o using tepid soapy water, then rinse with clean water. If infection continues, spray with an oil based product especially for scale insects. Aphids Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that cluster on so tissue, such as growing tips and owering buds. Aphids deposit a sticky honeydew, to which ants are attracted. Squish between your ngers. or large infestations, a houseplant pesticide may be necessary. Red spider mites Red spider mites are harder to see. They are minute and infest the underside of leaves in warm, dry conditions. A tell-tale sign of mites, and other sapsucking insects, is leaf stippling, and leaves may fall. ine webbing is sometimes seen between stems and leaves. A miticide may be required. Mist leaves, particularly on the undersides, to keep them moist. Fungus gnats The small black adult ies are actually harmless it is the o spring, the black-headed maggots, that do the damage. While the larvae mostly feed on fungus, they can feed on plant roots, especially when conditions are moist, and this can lead to stunting, yellowing and wilting leaves. ou may see small ies around plants that have been overwatered, where there is fungus or mildew, where there is bright light and in warm conditions. Allow the potting mix to dry out then water the soil with a mix of one part hydrogen peroxide and four parts water. Let the soil dry again, then repot. Hang sticky traps nearby to catch adult flies. Mealy bugs hese small insects are covered in white, cotton like fluff. Leaves will yellow, wilt and fall off with large infestations. Wipe them off with a damp cloth or cotton bud. erious infestations may need spraying. Botrytis & powdery mildew Fuzzy grey mould that covers flowers, leaves and stems is likely to be botrytis, aka grey mould. Common causes are dead leaves and spent flowers left on plants, high humidity and/or poor ventilation. Remove any debris from plants as uickly as possible and cut back on the misting. Prune off infected parts. Powdery mildew is often the result of high humidity, poor air circulation and low light. t can appear on leaves and soil. void misting plants and keep water off leaves. Open a window to allow air to circulate. fungal spray can be used. Leaf spots Possible causes of spotted foliage are overwatering check roots for signs of rot , burn from direct sun, cold water on foliage, or fungal infection. ark spots with yellow margins is likely to be fungal leaf spot, but white coloured spots are most likely due to water splash. mall black dots the fruiting bodies of fungi may be visible in dead or dying leaves. Remove infected leaves and provide good air circulation. void water splashes. fungal spray can be used. Root rot & dry/wet rot Root rot is typically caused by overwatering, which in turn deprives roots of oxygen. If the roots are black and mushy, there is nothing much you can do. ou can try repotting in fresh potting mix ,but if your plant continues to wilt, you may need to throw it away. Cacti are particularly susceptible to dry or wet root rot. It can happen when the soil is not free draining enough, or if soil remains wet for a prolonged period. Use a sharp sterile knife to dig out the damaged part and allow the hole to dry out. he wound will eventually close. e sure not to get it wet. Crown and stem rot fungal disease caused by warm, humid conditions, wet soil, wet leaves and poor air circulation. n infected plants, part of the stem or crown turns soft and mushy. Remove diseased parts and spray with fungicide.