After over four years of back and forth battles against mealybugs on my indoor plants, I took some drastic measures this week to eradicate, hopefully once and for all, this pestilence that has both plagued me and embarrassed me for over four years.
I’m not sure how or exactly when they arrived in my sunroom, but I suspect they came in on an African violet purchased from the non-defunct Frank’s Nursery & Crafts. (Remember good ol’ Frank’s? We’ll have to reminisce about them sometime soon.)
Over these last four, or maybe five years, I’ve battled back and forth with the mealybugs. They primarily attacked African violets, Clivia miniata, Aloe, and any amaryllis I brought into the house at Christmas time. I’ve wiped leaves, tossed plants, used organic sprays, cursed, and at times, tried to ignore them. Did you know that if you ignore them, they won’t go away?
This spring, I took all the Clivia outside, five pots worth shown on the wagon in the picture above. Yes, I put them outside for the summer, thinking, hoping, that the mealybugs would see a bigger, better world out there, and go away.
They did not see a better world and leave. They hunkered down, multiplied, started villages and towns, and I’m sure made plans for how they would take over once again when brought inside.
But I fixed their wagon!
This week, I threw out all of the African violets (moment of silence, but I am now a lot younger in African violet years). I did save one called ‘Merlot’ by taking some leaf cuttings from it, but tossed the actual plant. I had to, it had an interesting leaf.
I then rounded up all the Aloe and repotted the smallest starts, after cleaning them thoroughly.
And, I threw out all but two fans of the Clivia. Those two fans likewise were thoroughly cleaned, as best as I could clean them.
Then after thoroughly cleaning the sunroom, where these all live with my other houseplants, including the night-blooming Cereus, I moved them not back in there, but into another room in the house. There they will remain in isolation until I am sure, once and for all, that they are not infested with mealybugs.
What are mealybugs, anyway?
Short answer, nasty little insects with sucking mouth parts that like to suck the life out of my houseplants. That’s all you really need to know.
Here’s a picture of some on the Clivia.
Wish me luck, that once and for all, I’ve gotten rid of them in my house.
And learn from my experience. When you buy a new houseplant, carefully inspect it for mealybugs, which look like little cottony-masses. Look closely in all the “nooks and crannies” of the plant because they are good at hiding. Then, when you bring a new plant home, isolate it from other plants for a few weeks, just to be sure.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check the isolated plants to see if any mealybugs have reappeared overnight.