Posts Tagged Carolina Gardener

Sunday, October 18, 2009 Puttering in Helen’s Haven

October 2009 GBBD 037

Not a whole lot went on in Helen’s Haven this week.  Most of the time was tied up working on the book Table of Contents and figuring out to run a Mac.

Here is my Carolina Gardener story on Handling Houseplant Pest

Each month, I post a photo of the flowers growing in Helen’s Haven.  Her is October’s posting Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day

Still time to get inspired – enjoy October Inspiration Fine Gardening

Wondering what maintenance to do now ?  Visit – This Month in the Garden October maintenance

Oh, those garden gnomes…here’s what our gnomes  like to do.  How about yours? What our gnomes have been up to

The Chestnuts are ripe and falling.  We call them ouchy balls.  Gloves and shoes are necessary to harvest.

Copy and photos by Helen Yoest

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening With Confidence Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her Facebook page, the Gardening With Confidence fan page. Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.

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In Print – Carolina Gardener – Handling Houseplant Pest

The November/December of Carolina Gardner is out. Included in this issue is my story on Handling Houseplant Pests.  Unfortunately, it cannot be downloaded.   Pick up a copy today!

Carolina Gardener is now of  Facebook.  It’s easy to become a fan…just click here to learn more and click on Become a Fan.

Handling Houseplant Pests


There are many reasons to add houseplants around the home – to freshen the air, to bring calmness to a room, or to charm a corner.    But when houseplants fall prey to pests, their charm can be eluded.

If caught early, houseplant pests are easy to rid.  The best course of action is to not bring infested plants home, but if they are, treat them as soon as they are realized.

Before purchasing a new houseplant choose carefully.  Look under the leaves and at the stems for signs of pests.   For those houseplants at home, inspect regularly.  Most pests attack weak plants, so keeping your plants healthy and happy are also a must.

By knowing how to identify the most common pests before purchasing a houseplant and being able to identify a pest on an existing houseplant so that it may be treated quickly, is your best defense.


Most common pests include aphids, fungus gnats, mealy bug, spider mites, scale, and whiteflies.


Aphids can be black, gray, orange, and green.  Their movement is slow.  At first glance, they appear to be motionless, but look closely, and you will detect very slow movement. Typically, they can be found in clusters on the undersides of leaves, on flower buds, at the growing tips, and where the leaves meet the stem.

To treat, simply take the affected plant and spray either under the tap for small plants, or in the tub shower for larger plants.  The water pressure will knock them off and they will go down the drain.  If the infestation is particularly bad, spray the houseplant with an insecticidal soap.

Fungus Gnats

These tiny black flies are often found flying around houseplants.  They are mainly a nuisance and won’t hurt the plant.  Getting rid of them is easy since they live only in overly moist soil.

If you have fungus gnats, it’s a sign of overwatering your plants.  To treat, simply water less often and they will disappear.  If they are particularly troublesome, unpot the plant, wash the soil from the roots, and repot with fresh soil.

Mealy bugs

Mealy bugs look more like a tuff of cotton than a bug.  Typically, mealy bugs are found adhering to the plant where leaves join the stem, and sometimes in the roots, as well.

To treat, moisten a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and wipe them off.  Repeat in a week or so in case any eggs were left behind.

For a severe infestation, spray the plant with an insecticidal soap. If you have root mealies, wash all the soil off the roots and repot with fresh soil.


A scale infestation is when the leaves look like they have scabs on their “skin.”

Scale attach themselves to the undersides of leaves and is protected by a hard outer shell, making insecticidal soap sprays useless.

To treat a light infestation, moisten a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and wipe down each leaf.  For more involved infestations, try spraying with Neem oil.  If an infestation is heavy and the plant has begun to turn yellow, disposal is the only option.

Spider Mites

These tiny spider-like insects are hard to see with the naked eye.  The first sign of infestation are white webs that appear between leaves and stems. They thrive in hot dry conditions.  Under watering creates an idea condition for spider mites.  Mist leaves regularly, especially in winter when central heating dries out the air.

To treat an existing infestation, give the plant a shower under the tap or in the tub, and repeat in a week or so.  If infestation is advance to where the plant is losing leaves, spray with an insecticidal soap.


These tiny, moth-like insects rise above a moved plant in a great cloud before resettling.  They usually occur in large numbers and spread quickly from plant to plant.

Winged adults are the stage most commonly seen; however it’s the feeding of the immature nymph stage are what causes the damage to the leaves.  Whitefly nymphs are scale-like in shape, translucent color, and fairly immobile.  Feeding on the leaf undersides, whitefly nymphs are often inconspicuous and easily overlooked.

Getting rid of them is difficult.  To treat, spray every three days with an insecticidal soap.  If this doesn’t work, the plant should be disposed of.

The best defense against houseplant pest infestations is prevention and early treatment.  Keeping houseplants healthy by matching the plant with the right light and water, and avoiding the extremes, will give you and your houseplants many years of enjoyment.


To make houseplant insecticidal soap, add about 6 drops of a liquid detergent into a quart spray bottle.  Fill with water, shake.

Commercial products are also available.

Pick up a copy today!

Copy by Helen Yoest

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening With Confidence Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her Facebook page, the Gardening With Confidence fan page. Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008 Pearl Fryer

By the sweet smell of wood smoke coming from his chimney, I assumed Pearl Fryer was home – inside warm, dry, and cozy – outside 50, drizzling, and gray. Yet the sculpted gardens were bright and cheerful. I finally had peralbishopsvilleyoest-14the chance to visit the amazing topiary gardens of Pearl’s dreams. I’m glad I did. Located in Bishopville, SC, this garden is now being preserved by the Garden Conservancy.


We had a good 2.5 inches of rain this week. After checking out, and a lead story entitled Falls Lake Finally Full, I see, as of this morning, Falls Lake, Raleigh’s major water source, is at 252 feet. The lake is considered full at 251.5 feet.

City Council ruled that when we got at 90% capacity, we should be able to go back to Stage 1 watering restrictions. As promised, this begins on Tuesday. Unfortunately, Stage 1 also means lawns can be watered once a week. Of course, the irony is the grass doesn’t need watering because we have received enough to green it up nicely. This also means we will be able to water from the end of the hose twice a week. It is my hope, however, not to have to do so.

My friend Bill found me 250 gallon water container. This will become my main rain catch basin. From here, I will transfer water to various parts of the garden and use only when plants need watering – new plantings, those not yet established, those in the oasis zone and finally, those in the transitional zone in the absence of long periods of rain will benefit from this stored water.

Due to the recent rain, gardeners are shopping for spring flowers. I hope they do plant, but plant waterwisely…put the right plant in the right place, take time to properly prepare the soil, and only water when needed.

We had roller coaster weather this week – cold, then mild, windy, then cold, then hot and ending on a cold note.

The garden looks fantastic. Blooming on April 1 was verbena ‘Homestead Purple’, contorted crabapple , daffs, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, Hellebores, Redbud (waning), Carolina Jessamine, pansies, Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’, Iris, columbine, Mrs. G.G. Gerbing azalea, Loropetalum (Sp.?), spirea (Sp.?), Rosemary, Spanish Lavender, Vinca, Camellias (still!), Chrysogonum virginianum green and gold ‘Allen Bush’, tulips, veronica ‘Georgia’, quince (Sp.?), Dogwood (Sp.?), Cross vine (just starting), Forsythia (Sp.?),

I took a couple days off to attend the Carolina Garden Magazine 11th annual garden tour. This year the tour was in Charleston. I had sensory overload. Good thing I have photographs to refer back too so I can further study all that I saw.

The biggest surprise in my garden when I returned from Charleston was the smoke bush (Cotinus Royal Purple) leafing out. I planted her in the midst of the heat and drought (but, post Easter freeze) and it did not do well. We couldn’t water and she lost her leaves. I thought it went to the big compost heap in the sky. During last year’s tough summer and fall, I followed the advice of Mark Weathington at the JC Raulston Arboretum with regards to maintaining our assigned collections. We were to treat any dead looking plant as viable. We did there and I followed this advice in my own garden ‘Helen’s Haven’…I am glad I did.

Helen Yoest (Philbrook)

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