White Stuff On Indoor Foliage & When To Pick Pears

Question:

 Since July, patches of white, fuzzy, sticky stuff have been on the leaves of my silver-veined Fittonia houseplant. I’ve been rubbing the white puffs away when I see them. However, it keeps returning, so I wonder if it may be a ‘micro spider.’ I’ve isolated it from my other plants by taking it to work. Now, my co-workers have noticed that it is sick looking. You can imagine my embarrassment! What should I do?

Answer:

  • A workplace is stressful enough without having your plants embarrassing you. I would take the Fittonia home and replace it at the office with one that is lush and thriving. The recovery will make excellent water cooler conversation.
  • The white stuff on houseplants is usually one of two things, Powdery Mildew or Mealybug. It’s no ‘Micro Spider.’
  • Powdery Mildew is a fungus disease that covers the leaf surface with a white film. It can cover the entire leaf or be in random spots. In severe cases, it will also coat the leaf petiole and stems.
  •  I do not believe this is your problem, as Powdery Mildew is not sticky to the touch, while Mealybug can be. Mealybug is a sucking insect like Aphid. It produces a stringy white filament to cover itself. At a glance, it looks more like a cotton ball. Mealybug feeds on plant juices.
    • These juices are secreted as a clear, sticky substance called ‘Honey Dew.’ We find Mealybug a problem with indoor tropical plants and other herbaceous plants.
    • With a persistent problem like yours, I would control it with a Bonide Systemic House Plant Insect Control Granules. Bonide Systemic Granules are applied to the soil and watered in. The insecticide is transported throughout the plant juices controlling the Mealybug when they attack for up to eight weeks.
    • These low odor-ready-to-use granules are meant to control insects affecting your containerized indoor plants.
    • This internal insect protection won’t wash off.   Bonide Systemic House Plant Insect Control Granules is available locally or online at Amazon.

Question:

My Anjou pears are not ripening. This is my first crop, so I’m not sure what to do next.

Answer:

  • Pears are best harvested before they ripen and are allowed to ripen off the tree. Tree-ripen pears will not develop their peak flavor or texture.
  • You should pick the pears when it is green, hard, and full-size for the particular variety. To harvest pears, lift up the fruit until the stem separates from the branch; do not pull or twist.
  • If the stem does not break easily, allow the fruit to remain on the tree for a few more days. Comice, Winter Nelis, and Anjou need about six weeks of cold storage before ripening to get the highest quality, so store them in a cool, dry location.