I have about 30 plants, 12 are Ficus benjimina and 4 are Starlight. The rest are different Ivies and Peperomias. Every plant now has some insect or disease. Most of the insects are I think Mealies. I have tried many chemical insecticides, and several home recipes. Nothing is working. My plants are gradually dying. Most of them also have white mold. I have gotten rid of 5 and many more are about to go. I do not know what else to try. Can you give me some suggestions please? Thank you, Karen
How to Get Rid of Mealy Bugs
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Try neem oil. It is safe and effective in treating these pests. Here is more information: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/problems/pests/neem-oil-uses.htm
Mealy bugs can be really nasty adversaries. If you've been struggling with them for awhile, they have most likely infested the soil, the pots, and the floors/tables/window sills around the plants. There are several things you can try. For spraying the plants, I have had great success with a mix of 2 tablespoons mild soap (mild dish soap, Castille liquid, or horticultural soap), 1 tablespoon oil (neem oil, horticultural oil, canola oil), 1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol mixed in a small spray bottle with water to fill. Spray carefully all over the plant, looking for places where the mealies are - down into the leafstem/mainstem crotches, up onto the underside of the leaves, etc. You need to spray till the plant is dripping, because you have to soak the bugs to penetrate their nasty little white coats. Also, you must spray at weekly intervals for 3 (4 for good measure) weeks, to break the life cycle of the pests.
Secondly, you will need to clean all the area where the plants are and spray with your mixture as well.
Thirdly, to address the mealies in the soil, I would remove the plant from the pot, clear off as much of the soil as possible, then soak the roots in HOT water; as long as it's not so hot that you can't put you hand into it, it won't hurt the plant, but it will kill the bugs. Then clean and disinfect the pot thoroughly, and repot with clean potting medium.
White stuff on the soil: if it's mold, the above suggestions could help. But is the stuff soft or hard, because if it's hard, it is most likely salt build up, which would indicate the need for leaching the soil with water (run through app. 5X the volume of your pots) or repotting, or both, also probably fertilizing too much - that leads to build up of unused fertilizer, which we see in the form of salt. Good luck
I found this article informative: http://houseplants.about.com/od/pests/a/Mealybugs.htm
Are you sure you have mealybugs? Not questioning you, but sometimes a pest is misidentified, and that changes the "line of attack".
Also, I've used isopropyl alcohol 50/50 with water as a spray/mist that seems to work well. Don't spray to drip, just mist.
Whatever you choose to do, repeat on a weekly basis for 4-6 weeks. This will break the life cycle by killing newly hatched critters before they have a chance to lay eggs!
About the white mouldy stuff on the soil...here are two answers to a previous question:
Nikki - Certified GKH Gardening Expert | Report Abuse
These articles may help: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/seeds/preventing-white-fluffy-fungus-on-seed-starting-soil.htm
AnnsGreeneHaus - | Report Abuse
Try sprinkling the top of the soil with cinnamon. Cinnamon is a natural funicide.
Also, it might be caused by one of several things.
Potting soild should be purchased by a “greenhouse” that grows their plant material. Buy the soil they grow in. All potting soils are NOT created equally! A commercial peatlite potting soil media should not have mold spores.
Are you keeping the plant really wet? Sometimes this happens. Let the plant dry slightly between waterings.
Is the top of the soil getting any light and/or air ventilation? No light and stagnant air will help mold grow.