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The downsides of indoor jungles


BeyondTheGarden

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I have plants stacked on plants.  No idea how many, in the hundreds. 

I love my palms and plants but it's also work.  I always have weeds, and pest problems arise.  And I have so many plants that I sometimes miss some when watering.  Having plants underneath other plants means problems can run amock for some time without me realizing it. I also constantly burn fronds that grow too close to the grow lights. 

I'm currently watering once a week and it takes 20-30 minutes.  Grow box gets watered daily and I have to refill the humidifier. Takes 5-10 minutes, not bad. 

Currently have these little white pests, there are millions.  Only way I know to handle an infestation like this is to clean each one by hand with soapy water and rinse in the sink.  Labor of love. 

What frustrations do others have growing indoor jungles? How do you deal with them?

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Edited by Jesse PNW
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gnats are my main issue and I do not know how to handle them

I've done

-neem oil, mosquito dunks, mosquito bits, insecticidal soap, fungicide 3

It feels impossible

Edited by ZPalms
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I get gnats too.  I can't eliminate them but I started putting gnat traps out.  Bottles with apple cider vinegar and dish soap.  It helps cut down the numbers.  They were so bad at one point they were hanging out in the kitchen terrorizing my wife.  When she mentioned them I knew it was past time to do something. 

Anybody else have a better method for getting rid of fungus gnats? 

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I've had gnats in the past,  not yet this year though.  Once i switched over to a chunkier fast draining mix( turface,coir,garden soil in equal parts by volume) they pretty much have disappeared.  I also top off pots with a turface cap,just to make sure 

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So my little white guests are mealy bugs.  Washing each plant with dish soap seems like a fool proof method, but it takes a lot of time.  And it may not kill mealy bugs living on the surface of the soil.  Although I remove the top half inch of soil if feasible. 

I've used neem oil in the past, but it has limited results, and it leaves your plants all oily and sticky and it stinks.  Any other advice?

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22 hours ago, Jesse PNW said:

Currently have these little white pests, there are millions.  Only way I know to handle an infestation like this is to clean each one by hand with soapy water and rinse in the sink.  Labor of love. 

What frustrations do others have growing indoor jungles? How do you deal with them?

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This is another big reason why I prefer single trunk indoor palms over anything clumpy, like, say, lipsticks, for example. If you can't see what's going on thru the jungle, you'll have a tough time maintaining it. I'd like to know what those tiny white rice-like creatures are. I've seen and treated mealy bugs and those look totally different. I have an indoor pritchardia that's doing fantastic indoors, but I noticed similar white eggs or whatever they are in the saucer drain water. But no pests on the plant itself. Under a magnifying glass the white objects were identical in size and shape with no physical detail, so I assumed they were just eggs because they showed no movement or activity. But how can there be a gazillion eggs with nothing to lay them? Didn't find anything online that matched the image. I eventually repotted and hosed down the rootball completely and discarded the soil. If yours are mealys they should have movement, texture, and noticeable tails & legs and vary in size.

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4 hours ago, Jesse PNW said:

So my little white guests are mealy bugs.  Washing each plant with dish soap seems like a fool proof method, but it takes a lot of time.  And it may not kill mealy bugs living on the surface of the soil.  Although I remove the top half inch of soil if feasible. 

I've used neem oil in the past, but it has limited results, and it leaves your plants all oily and sticky and it stinks.  Any other advice?

Neem oil can do more harm than good. Castile soap and water is my go-to treatment for now on. And many products on the shelf at garden centers that claim to be harmless are not. 

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@HiwaKikathank you for that info, I will have to do some more looking as to what these are.  There must have been tens of thousands before I started cleaning.  They seemed to start appearing on some of the weeds that were growing up from the palm pots first. Another reason to stay on top of weeds. 

Edited by Jesse PNW
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I have annoying little fruit flies that are everywhere in my house! they are flying into everybody's eyes and mouth!

An Autistic 18 year old who has an obsession with Palms!

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@EJ NJyou should try a gnat trap as I mentioned above.  I've made them a few times over the years and they're a good passive way to keep them at bay. 

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5 hours ago, HiwaKika said:

Neem oil can do more harm than good. Castile soap and water is my go-to treatment for now on. And many products on the shelf at garden centers that claim to be harmless are not. 

Agree with Castile soap. You can find it in pharmacies in liquid or bar form. I have a bar and shave bits into a bowl of water and mix. Never use detergent on plants.

Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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Hi Jesse,
Thanks a lot for sharing!!
It seems that your place is slidely over-crowded with plants. ;)
I can totally feel with you. But I do wonder why you are so keen on having so many small plants.
Small plants become big plants...
Are you into collecting lots of different species? (plant hunter)
Or are you planning to plant them out somewhere?
Just curious.

If I don't watch it I will also soon get to the limit with my plants...
But I also want to make it happen that my palms are actually adding style to my apartment...

Best, Matti


 

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Spider mites. 

 

Fungus gnats. 

 

I brought most of my palms in a week or so ago when we had a freeze, and one of the pots apparently had mosquitoes breeding in the water reservoir. 

 

I can't use my organic palm food (chicken poop) indoors because my dog thinks it's delicious. 

 

My Cat Palm has grown too big and blocks part of my TV. 

 

I'm short on lighting now that I had to bring everything inside for a freeze. I've got stuff that's way too big for this apartment. Watering and misting are a pain in the culo even though I've only got like 35 plants.... But tbf I'm in a studio apartment. 

 

But I do love my green homeys and this is way cooler than getting to stare at a bunch of bad drywall and white walls. 

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5 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Agree with Castile soap. You can find it in pharmacies in liquid or bar form. I have a bar and shave bits into a bowl of water and mix. Never use detergent on plants.

Bought a bottle off Amazon then noticed all local supermarkets carry it ... lol

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@fotodimattiabout half of them are palms that I like but can't grow outside.  Kings, Queens,  Beccariophoenix, Phoenix species, Wodyetias, Caryotas, etc.  The other half are Trachycarpus seedlings from local seeds.  And other hardy palm seedlings like Sabals.  They could stay outside but they wouldn't grow through the winter, like they do indoors.  I've already got growlights and space set aside so I keep them inside for the winter.  

I'll have to look into Castile soap.  That's an old-time thing I haven't looked up since the days when I was into homesteading.  

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7 hours ago, Jesse PNW said:

@fotodimattiabout half of them are palms that I like but can't grow outside.  Kings, Queens,  Beccariophoenix, Phoenix species, Wodyetias, Caryotas, etc.  The other half are Trachycarpus seedlings from local seeds.  And other hardy palm seedlings like Sabals.  They could stay outside but they wouldn't grow through the winter, like they do indoors.  I've already got growlights and space set aside so I keep them inside for the winter.  

I'll have to look into Castile soap.  That's an old-time thing I haven't looked up since the days when I was into homesteading.  

Fred Meyers sells Castile soap.  Look for Dr. Bronners, its more near the makeup/skincare section.  Or you can order from Amazon.

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Here's another ankle biter induced by stacking small potted palms onto larger pots.  With aggressive rooting types, the roots from the smaller palms dig down into the larger pot below them.  I could just break them off but that's setting the palm back.  

Trying to find tall, skinny containers to pot them up is difficult.  But I started using pop bottles (and similar drink bottles) and it works for a lot of applications. 

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With stupid cold temps I've had to bring everything that I care about inside. Poked myself in the eye a couple times with my normal walk to the bathroom to pee in the middle of the night routine 

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2 hours ago, JohnAndSancho said:

With stupid cold temps I've had to bring everything that I care about inside. Poked myself in the eye a couple times with my normal walk to the bathroom to pee in the middle of the night routine 

You can't really walk from my living room into the dining room without brushing into Phoenix roebelinii fronds.  And if you sit down at the table, be careful when you stand up or you'll back your chair into an array of palms.  I'm glad my wife (and kids) tolerate my obsession.  I had to move a dozen palms to make room for the Christmas tree, and unfortunately some that were low on the pecking-order got moved outside.  They're on the porch under cover, up against the house, so maybe they'll make it but if not, I'll still have more palms than I know what to do with.  I guess that's what you call a first-world problem.  

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5 hours ago, Jesse PNW said:

You can't really walk from my living room into the dining room without brushing into Phoenix roebelinii fronds.  And if you sit down at the table, be careful when you stand up or you'll back your chair into an array of palms.  I'm glad my wife (and kids) tolerate my obsession.  I had to move a dozen palms to make room for the Christmas tree, and unfortunately some that were low on the pecking-order got moved outside.  They're on the porch under cover, up against the house, so maybe they'll make it but if not, I'll still have more palms than I know what to do with.  I guess that's what you call a first-world problem.  

Luckily all my palms are in the corner of my living room out of the way. But they are on top of each other and some get no light!

An Autistic 18 year old who has an obsession with Palms!

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I think that you have given yourself an impossible task. You have created a pest heaven.

No one can control bugs and pests in that situation, but indoor jungles do have their pleasures that help to offset their work. 

 

Cheers Steve

It is not dead, it is just senescence.

   

 

 

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I let all my plants dry out, I didn't water most for about 10 days.  Fungus gnats virtually disappeared.  Still a few here and there but not like before.  I've never let the soil totally dry out like that before, I felt like I was killing them.  But I think they're all OK.  

1 hour ago, Steve Mac said:

You have created a pest heaven.

They like the conditions that I have provided but unlike outdoors, there aren't bigger varmints to keep them in check.  I don't have problems with pests when my plants are outside (except maybe the occasional rat eating my seedlings).

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Gnatrol will permanently fix fungus gnats if you treat every pot. It's a bacteria you water the soil with, completely safe, and when the larvae eat the organic matter that has this bacteria, they are eaten from the inside out and it ends the entire colony and life cycle. Worth the $30 to be done with them, and you'll have a lot extra if you ever introduce them again. 

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  • 1 month later...

I am in the same situation. I have also a lot of palms, cycads, etc in my balcony. My wife and kids are used to having all of these around. It was hard at the beginning. 😄

Many consider me crazy, but I really don't care.

 

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15 hours ago, cristi said:

I am in the same situation. I have also a lot of palms, cycads, etc in my balcony. My wife and kids are used to having all of these around. It was hard at the beginning. 😄

Many consider me crazy, but I really don't care.

 

All your plants look in fantastic condition. Are they always indoors, or do they go out in the summer? How do you deal with pests like spidermite, etc.?

I'm particularly envious of your Zamias; I have attempted to grow a number of species of tropical Zamia (although not Z. dressleri), but I can never keep them alive for long; they just seem to hate me. Currently trying with Z. nesophila seeds. Could you share what temperature/watering/media you employ for the Zamias?

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All my plants are indoor, all year long, in pots. 

I had many problems in the past with spider mites, but I decided to go "nuclear".  I used Vertimec (commercial name in my country), the active component of it is abamectin.  It is absorbed by the plant, and it is active a long period of time.  There is necessary a very well ventilation after applying. 

I avoid opening windows when the wind is blowing. I found out this is the main way how they get into the house, and I do not bring new plants without a quarantine period, I keep them in a separate location. In the present I do not have any problem with them. 

Temperature in my house is always min 68F (20C). Humidity 45-60 max. I am trying to keep it to 50-55%. Over 60% indoor for long periods is not safe in my opinion, may boost the mold.

For Zamias the media is 90% pumice + 10 cocopeat (I wash it to remove salts, even they say on the label that it is already).

I do not use soil, compost or any similar.

From my experience drainage and quality of water are very important for pure tropical plants.

I use pure reverse osmosis water for spraying and 4l RO + 1l tap water for watering.

For palms like areca vestiaria, licuala etc I use: pumice + charcoal + pine bark + perlite + some cocopeat.

Less fertilizer, the better, especially for the seedlings, like Jeff Marcus (from Floribunda) said. 

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