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Video:Indoor Plant Problems and Solutions

with Ray Emrich

If you want your indoor plants to look healthy and robust, you need to take action quickly when you see problems. Here are some common plant problems and solutions.See Transcript

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Transcript:Indoor Plant Problems and Solutions

Hi , my name is Ray Emrich. I am a technician for Manhattan Plant Experts here in New York City, and I am here for About.com. Today we are going to discuss some of the most common pests and environmental problems that plants have growing indoors.

Scale Problems

Right here, we have a Hoya plant which has a very bad case of scale. Scale is basically a very minute insect, which you probably can not see. The leaves tend to get little brown bumpy spots on the undersides of the leaves and that is actually the scale insect protecting itself with the dried-up sap that it sucks out of the leaf. That is also what causes the leaves to turn yellow, as you can see. Another sign that you have scale is when you start to get these shiny or sticky white patches on the leaves. That means that the sap is actually dripping out of the leaves. One of the easiest things to do for scale is to take some alcohol swabs, or a paper towel soaked in alcohol, or an alcohol and water spray -- equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water -- and spray the plant down and then wipe off the leaves. The alcohol will kill the insects and will also clean off all this shiny, sticky sap off the leaves.

Humidity Problems

That is a bug problem. Another common environmental problem with indoor plants is, as we all know, we like to have warmth in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Both of those cause the air to dry out a lot. So, what often happens with plants, is you get these dry tips. That does not mean that the plant is not being watered properly, it just means there is not enough humidity in the environment around the plant. One of the easiest things you can do for that is to get a spray bottle -- a mister -- and mist the plant down every day, maybe twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, and the plant will definitely like that. Another thing you can do would be to get a large tray, preferably made from plastic or metal, fill it with pebbles and sit the plant on top of it -- not in the growers pot but in the outside cylinder so it will not absorb too much excess water. Put water over the pebbles and as the water evaporates, it will add a lot more moisture into the air for the plant.

Mealy Bug Problems

One more common problem that a lot of plants get is called mealy bug. If this plant had mealy bug, you would see, on the undersides of the leaves -- again, they are nearly a microscopic insect that live on the plant leaves and suck the sap -- you would see white, fuzzy, cottony patches. Another sign would be if the leaves started turning yellow or were getting stippled with little yellow spots on the leaves. The easiest way to take care of that is, again, alcohol wipes. Wipe down the plant, spray it with Safer soap or an alcohol and water solution and wipe the plant down really well. Your main objective with any kind of treatment is two-fold: it is a chemical treatment and actually wiping the plant down and physically removing the adult pest problems as possible.

Take Actions to Fix the Problem

One of the most important things with any problem with plants is as soon as you notice a problem, take action. Do not say, well, I will treat it tomorrow or next week, because by then any problem, whether it is environmental or caused by a bug, could then become a major problem.

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