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Caudiciforms and Pachycaul Trees Includes ponytail palms, Madagascar palms and desert roses (NB: these aren't true palms or roses!)

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Old August 17th, 2008, 02:55 PM
eduboys eduboys is offline
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Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

Within the last few weeks my ponytail has developed white dots all over the leaves. They are especially concentrated near the leaf producing section of the plant.

I have one picture of the dots on the actual leaf, and one of the start of the branch. Is there a way to save the plant? What can I do to fix this?

Thanks in advance!
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Old August 17th, 2008, 05:06 PM
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Junglekeeper Junglekeeper is offline
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Re: Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

Looks like an infestation of scale. One possible treatment is multiple applications of insecticidal soap as directed on the label. However the soap is ineffective against the adults so it's best to physically remove as much as possible prior to treatment. Though I have no experience with it, horticultural oil may be a more effective treatment in this case.
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Old August 17th, 2008, 05:08 PM
markinwestmich markinwestmich is offline
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Re: Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

Clean the plant with soapy water and then rinse with a good spray from the hose. Afterward, you may use a "houseplant" insecticide spray. Expect the bugs to return within 2 weeks as eggs hatch. Repeat the process as necessary. If it were a few bugs, then rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab will take care of it.

At some point, I would change the soil. Use a loose, granular mix with little organic material and do not water for a week afterward.

If the plant isn't already outdoors, then moving the plant outdoors to a shady spot will help. The brighter light and air circulation will perk the plant up.
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Old August 17th, 2008, 05:45 PM
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Wolvie150 Wolvie150 is offline
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Re: Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

I have used horticultural oil, and it works fairly well - but has the same 'disadvantage' as most chemicals - 2 or 3 applications during that 14 or so day window. I just washed, sprayed with water, let dry, and apply oil. Then 10-12 days later I give it another light spritz, followed by one at 14-15 days (depending on memory).
The middle application is not necessary; however, I have noticed that it sometimes helps because one isn't really sure when in the reproductive cycle the insects/eggs are at, so this is just really going that obsessive 110%.
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Old August 17th, 2008, 06:01 PM
eduboys eduboys is offline
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Re: Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

The plant is inside my apartment in NYC, so bringing outside will be tough to do as we do not have any outdoors space. The plant was purchased at a local store about 9 months ago, and we bought the palm soil from home depot. No clue how the bugs got there, unless they arrived with the soil or with the plant. What type of soap is best to use in a soapy mix? Will dish soap do the trick? Where can we by the oil? Would they have it at home depot?

As we tried to scrub the bugs off, we noticed that they were most concentrated in the areas that we couldn't physically get to with a rag. After pulling a handful of leaves off the tree, we noticed that the bugs were pervasive throughout the entire branch. Should we simply cut off the top of the branch and hope it grows back, or should we go about it using a different approach?

One final question - are the scales in anyway problematic to have indoors in an apartment, or are we OK keeping the plant in here as we try to deal with them?

Thanks for the quick replies, the info is much appreciated!
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Old August 18th, 2008, 04:42 AM
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Wolvie150 Wolvie150 is offline
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Re: Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

OK: being a Home Depot lover from my craft hobby, and having some experience with interior technician, I'll try to answer from my experience:
Most likely, they did arrive with plant, or came through open window on wind/flying things, infected tools from other plants (even tips of water cans), or other plants in house.
I apologize, I should have remembered to tell you to isolate the plant from others for several weeks, in an area where contact is non-existent to minimal. Take care of it AFTER all other plants. Back to questions:

Any dish soap - a couple of drops per squeeze bottle. Don't worry about 100% scrubbing, but definitely hard spray those areas where the fronds or petioles meet at the main stalk. They will hide for eons in those crevices.
Oil, perhaps at Home Depot, definitely at garden centers, perhaps even Wally-world depending on the local merchants it is competing with.
Physical removal of large infestations? Um, using mild, but emphatic epithets, YES. Physically eliminate mass infestations as much as you can, following the "Limit cutting to 1/4 total volume" rule. (I won't admit this in a formal educational setting, but in some cases, I have gone as much as 1/2. If you need to whack off this much, most likely the plant is too stressed to live, so why not experiment?) But formally, stick to 1/4. It may look rough for rest of season, but should recover if bugs gone. Also only if it looks completely like the right hand picture from main branch all along the stem, all the leaves, and the plant material is dieing/mushy. Otherwise the branch is salvageable.
Keeping inside? Problematic, not really; but not the best. Choose an area with minimal to no breeze, for they will float along. Total isolation from any other plant. Try to find a spot that allows for NO physical contact for about 3 weeks (2+1 safety week). If you are going to do a mild miticide perhaps one you have cut to 1/2 concentration. CHECK LABEL FOR REACTIONS WITH WATER, check with experienced chem applicator you trust. If this option does not exist, I don't advise it due to the chemical-flow rate-evaporation concerns one needs to be aware of.

Finally, esp. if this is your first time, record some times, quantities, a few pics to show bug quantity, etc. Great for personal education, experience to pass on, and we're always interested in hearing such stories - so much direct empirical info and wider experience base to help the rest of us.

Good luck! and don't worry - bugs be a very "pesty" problem.

Last edited by Wolvie150; August 18th, 2008 at 04:54 AM. Reason: clarify grammar & subject, spell check
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Old August 18th, 2008, 05:22 AM
eduboys eduboys is offline
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Re: Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

Wolvie,

Thanks again for all the info - I am a fellow wolverine - class of 2003 at UM Ann Arbor. The bugs are not all the way up and down the leaves, but very concentrated where they all meet in the center as shown in the right picture. I guess I can try to spray the soapy solution right into the middle of all the leaves and see what happens.

Got a little grossed out after I tore a few of them off one of the branches, and wound up peeling off all of the leaves. Will try the soap solution and see how the plant reacts within a couple of weeks.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 07:37 AM
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Re: Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

Good luck!
(ps - although I do like UM for the mascott, the moniker actually come from my comic interest over several decades...)
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Old September 28th, 2008, 03:58 PM
eduboys eduboys is offline
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Re: Sick Ponytail - White Spots (Picture Included)

The plant started sprouting again, and the bugs continue to walk around on the plant. I took as good a picture as I can (bad light), and you can sort of see the little white spots on the leaf. They actually move around.

I attached a picture of the entire plant, as well as a close-up of the bugs (if you can see). Any advice how to rid myself of these things aside from a soapy water mix? Have been working on them for well over a month now, and I am a bit impatient with bugs crawling around a plant in my apartment. Wondering if I should just chuck it and start over with a new one.
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