Spider Mites

Host Plants:

In the garden: Many flowers
On Crops: Beans, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and strawberries

Closely related to spiders, spider mites (sometimes called web-spinning mites) are specialists at colonizing drought-stressed plants. Under warm, dry conditions with temperatures above 80°F (26 °C), leaves become stippled with hundreds of tiny yellow dots that run together to make the leaves look sun-bleached. On leaf undersides, a faint webbing is often present, especially near the leaf tips.

Damage:

Spider mites use piercing mouthparts to suck juices from plants. Heavily infested plants are weakened by spider mite feeding. Spider mites are attracted to drought-stressed plants.

Preventing Problems:

Spider mites thrive under hot, dusty conditions, so keeping the garden watered helps prevent problems. Spider mites also have numerous natural enemies that are easily wiped out by the use of pesticides. In organic gardens where beneficial insects are encouraged, spider mite problems are rare.

Managing Outbreaks:

Clip off and compost heavily infested leaves, because they will not recover. Thoroughly spray the plants with a fine spray of water, taking care to rinse leaf undersides. If the mites persist, repeat the water spray and then cover plants with an old sheet or other lightweight cloth for a couple of days. Shade and moist, cool conditions will seriously set back spider mites. To save a prized plant, an oil-based fungicide such as neem oil is the best intervention.

 

Tips:

If you tap an infested leaf over a white sheet of paper, a 10x magnifying glass will reveal numerous moving specks, which are the spider mites.

$20 off gif 461x66

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Jenny Bee Greenthumb’s Carnivorous Garden: The Venus Fly Trap

Dionaea muscipula: The Venus Flytrap

What a neat plant this is, and it looks like a bunch of hungry little tooth filled mouths    (The Cilia are what look like teeth). This is the Venus Flytrap, and it looks like it really could be from somewhere in outer space, but it actually comes from somewhere pretty darn close. They actually come from boggy areas in North and South Carolina in the United States.

Carnivorous plants are carnivorous for a reason, the places most, if not all, of these plants grow have soils or a habitat which lacks the nutrients the plants would need to survive, they make up for this by getting the rest of their needed nutrients from insects. So when growing your carnivorous plants, keep this in mind, they were made to get most of the nutrients they need to live and grow through insects so the growing medium you need to use is not going to contain what the soil you use for your other houseplants contains. Some of the carnivorous plants may even die because they weren’t made to live in a nutrient rich soil.

The little “mouths” are actually leaves, and the soil they grow in is poor, with little nutrients to take up.  It’s leaves have a few hairs on the inside of the “mouth” where the pink area is in the picture above, these are called trigger hairs. These little hairs are there for a very good reason. If the Flytrap closed every time something touched it, the plant would never survive. It takes a lot of energy for the plant to do this, and then it stays shut for a little while, now if it was a bug, then good, the plants nutrients are replenished, but if it was a leaf or something, the plant then would have used up its energy closing, missed out on real food while it was closed then use energy to open again. So these trigger hairs not only have to be touched so they move, but they have to be moved a certain way.

2 Live Adult Carnivorous Plants in Deluxe Terrarium: Venus Fly Trap and Pitcher Plant
venus flytrap4

Some materials you will need to grow The Flytraps are:  

Peat moss, also called milled sphagnum peat moss. You will need to rinse your Peat Moss, Some brands of peat are lower quality than others.Premier peat moss tends to develop algae and mold. Because of this, make sure you rinse the peat moss before using it to avoid these problems.
Try not to inhale peat dust- repeated exposure can cause some people to develop sporotrichosis from fungal spores found in peat. Avoid handling peat if you have cuts on your hands, due to the same reasons as above (wear gloves).

Long-Fiber Sphagnum Moss
Many Sundews can be grown in pure long-fibered sphagnum moss, depending on your climate and growing area, and is a great substitute for peat.
I use Better Grow Orchid moss. Another common brand is Mosser Lee.
It is much faster and cleaner to plant or repot with LFS than with a peat:sand mix, and LFS is usually quite clean compared to peat.You should still rinse LFS several times with hot water to reduce algae and mold for lower quality brands.
Mosser 0180 Long Fibered Sphagnum Moss, 100-Cubic Inch

Silica sand- can be found at pool supply stores (pool filter sand), or at Home Depot (sandblasting sand). I prefer pool filter sand, since it is normally comes pre-washed.  A larger grade is recommended- around #20 (about .50 mm).
Silica sand has worked best for me, since it is generally purer than play sand and it is great for loosening up the soil of your  pots, and allowing the soil to drain well. Make sure to rinse the sand to avoid salt and mineral buildup (even if it comes pre-rinsed).
Do not inhale silica dust when handling the sand. It can cause a lung condition known as silicosis from repeated exposure (but is usually ok in small doses).

Pots- use plastic or glazed pots. Species that have long roots should be given 4+-inch pots for best results. 6 is a safe bet for most adult South African sundews.  3-inch plastic cups also work very well for most of the easier sundew species. Frugal growers sometimes use yogurt cups or other old containers.
Clay pots can be used, but may eventually release minerals that can kill your plants over time. But if you want to use clay pots, occasionally top-water your carnivorous plants as much as possible, which will flush out the minerals that build up at the surface of the soi. If you grow them outdoors, the rain will take care of this for you.

To prepare your growing medium a 1:1 mix of peat moss to silica sand seems to work extremely well for most Fly Traps. However, pure LFS or a rough mix of 5:1 long-fiber sphagnum to silica sand has worked equally well for many Fly Traps.

One of the easiest methods for keeping the soil of your Fly Traps wet, (indoors our outdoors) is by using a tray, take the pot that your carnivorous plant is in, and place it over a tray that you have filled with water. Once the tray dries out in a few days, you refill the tray again.You can also top-water your plants, but this can become time-consuming if you have a large collection.

Now it is time to spread the seeds. Make sure if you spread many seeds on the surface in the same container to space them out as much as possible.

  • Water the plant with a little rain/distilled/reverse-osmosis water (about one or half an inch/2.5 to 1.5cm), via the tray method, to avoid disturbing the small seedlings.

.Feed the plant once every two weeks. If your plant is indoors, you’ll need to hand feed it. Feed it some dead insects or live insects, such as an ant. Feed the plant only fresh bugs

  • Don’t overfeed the plant if it is living in a high humidity environment. Doing so might promote mold growth, killing the leaves.
  • If you place the plant outside, it will most likely feed itself, hence feeding is not required.

Tetra 16194 Bloodworms, 0.28-Ounce, 100-Ml

  • Do not use any other type of water (such as tap water), as there may be excess minerals which build up and may kill the plant. If you do over-water the plant, invert the pot and plant while pressing down on the soil to squeeze out the extra water.

  They need bright Light and their roots kept damp

The Savage Garden, Revised: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants

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Droser sp. A.K.A. “The Sundew”

 

sundew7ad

Drosera sp, also known as the Sundew plant, is just one of the many carnivorous plants that you can grow at home.There are almost 200 species of this plant found growing everywhere except for Antarctica. With so many varieties growing in so many different places, certain species are going to be easier to grow than others, and certain varieties adapt easier and are not as finicky.

Carnivorous plants are carnivorous for a reason, the places most, if not all, of these plants grow have soils or a habitat which lacks the nutrients the plants would need to survive, they make up for this by getting the rest of their needed nutrients from insects. So when growing your carnivorous plants, keep this in mind, they were made to get most of the nutrients they need to live and grow through insects so the growing medium you need to use is not going to contain what the soil you use for your other houseplants contains. Some of the carnivorous plants may even die because they weren’t made to live in a nutrient rich soil.

When growing theses plants at home, instead of using fertilizer, you would use fish food to supplement nutrients. We will get into those details later.

Buy Your Carnivorous Plants Here

       Of the carnivorous plants grown at home, Sundews are one of the easiest. And of these there are some varieties that are easier to grow than others. Theses include; Drosera natalensis, Drosera capensis, Drosera binata, Drosera tokaiensis, Drosera spatulata, and Drosera adelae.

Some materials you need to successfully grow happy Sundews are;    Peat moss, also called milled sphagnum peat moss. You will need to rinse your Peat Moss, Some brands of peat are lower quality than others.Premier peat moss tends to develop algae and mold. Because of this, make sure you rinse the peat moss before using it to avoid these problems.
Try not to inhale peat dust- repeated exposure can cause some people to develop sporotrichosis from fungal spores found in peat. Avoid handling peat if you have cuts on your hands, due to the same reasons as above (wear gloves).

Long-Fiber Sphagnum Moss
Many Sundews can be grown in pure long-fibered sphagnum moss, depending on your climate and growing area, and is a great substitute for peat.
I use Better Grow Orchid moss. Another common brand is Mosser Lee.
It is much faster and cleaner to plant or repot Sundews with LFS than with a peat:sand mix, and LFS is usually quite clean compared to peat.You should still rinse LFS several times with hot water to reduce algae and mold for lower quality brands.   Moss can be Purchased Here

Silica sand- can be found at pool supply stores (pool filter sand), or at Home Depot (sandblasting sand). I prefer pool filter sand, since it is normally comes pre-washed.  A larger grade is recommended- around #20 (about .50 mm).
Silica sand has worked best for me, since it is generally purer than play sand and it is great for loosening up the soil of your sundew pots, and allowing the soil to drain well. Make sure to rinse the sand to avoid salt and mineral buildup (even if it comes pre-rinsed).
Do not inhale silica dust when handling the sand. It can cause a lung condition known as silicosis from repeated exposure (but is usually ok in small doses).

Pots- use plastic or glazed pots. Species that have long roots should be given 4+-inch pots for best results. 6 is a safe bet for most adult South African sundews.  3-inch plastic cups also work very well for most of the easier sundew species. Frugal growers sometimes use yogurt cups or other old containers.
Clay pots can be used, but may eventually release minerals that can kill your plants over time. But if you want to use clay pots, occasionally top-water your carnivorous plants as much as possible, which will flush out the minerals that build up at the surface of the soi. If you grow them outdoors, the rain will take care of this for you.


Food for your Sundews- if you want your Sundew seeds or plants to grow as fast as possible, you will want to feed them often. You can use Beta Bites (fish food pellets), freeze-dried bloodworms, or live insects, such as wingless or flightless fruit flies.

To prepare your growing medium a 1:1 mix of peat moss to silica sand seems to work extremely well for most Sundews. However, pure LFS or a rough mix of 5:1 long-fiber sphagnum to silica sand has worked equally well for many Sundews.

One of the easiest methods for keeping the soil of your Sundews wet, (indoors our outdoors) is by using a tray, take the pot that your carnivorous plant is in, and place it over a tray that you have filled with water. Once the tray dries out in a few days, you refill the tray again.You can also top-water your plants, but this can become time-consuming if you have a large collection.   Buy Food Here

Now it is time to spread the seeds. Make sure if you spread many seeds on the surface in the same container to space them out as much as possible.

  • Water the plant with a little rain/distilled/reverse-osmosis water (about one or half an inch/2.5 to 1.5cm), via the tray method, to avoid disturbing the small seedlings.
  • Check the plant every single day because Drosera can be sensitive plants.

Sundews generally germinate in 1 to 6 weeks and many species of Sundew take less than one year to reach maturity, this is much faster than the Venus Flytrap which can take 5 to 7 years to reach its mature size. They need full to partial light or bright indoor light, some even use artificial growing lights, this all depends on the lighting you can provide. Keep in mind that in the fall and winter months they are much more likely to need indoor growing lights.

Feed the plant once every two weeks. If your plant is indoors, you’ll need to hand feed it. Feed it some dead insects or live insects, such as an ant. Feed the plant only fresh bugs.

  • The sundew is not able to digest meat, so do not feed it any.
  • Do not feed the plant an insect that is bigger than the plant’s tentacle, or it could escape (and you’ll have to catch it) or it will simply be too large for the plant to digest.
  • Don’t overfeed the plant if it is living in a high humidity environment. Doing so might promote mold growth, killing the leaves.
  • If you place the plant outside, it will most likely feed itself, hence feeding is not required.

Watering your Sundew – A Sundew’s roots are often weakly developed and most water is taken in through the leaves. Therefore, spray the plant with an inch or two of mineral-free or distilled water once every week. Remember not to spray too much or drown the plant. Too much moisture or water will rot the roots.

  • Do not use any other type of water (such as tap water), as there may be excess minerals which build up and may kill the plant. If you do over-water the plant, invert the pot and plant while pressing down on the soil to squeeze out the extra water.

After reading this I hope you grow happy and healthy Sundews!

Indoor Gardening and seed starting shop      Books on Carnivorous Plants

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Cloning Your House Plants and Succulents

House Plants

Cloning plants is a lot easier than some people realize, it just sounds like there’s all this “scientific stuff” you would need to know to do it, but that isn’t so. Especially when it comes to house plants and succulents.  House plants usually come from places that stay somewhat warm throughout the year, and don’t have much direct sunlight, like under a canopy of trees, in the rain forest for instance. Succulents usually live in places that get very little water throughout the year and very bright, or direct sunlight, like the desert, pretty much the opposite of house plants. Although their habitats are basically the opposite of each other, they have something in common, they have to  survive in extreme conditions.

This common factor makes them both easy to clone. If a succulent  leaf was broken off by an animal, let’s say,  and that broken leaf is exposed to the right amount of light, and damp for a period of time, like a few weeks or so, they quickly start growing roots to ensure their survival. I don’t think hoping is the right word to use, but I’ll use it anyway, they are “hoping” that their roots grow into the ground and become established before the water evaporates away.

When a plant doesn’t produce seeds it is called  “Asexual reproduction”, in this case the only way to reproduce is through cloning. That is why many house plants grow roots so easily, if a stem is growing along a damp area it can produce roots, that part will now become a separate plant, natural cloning.  These plants often produce more rooting hormone than most others to ensure survival.

Some house plants can be finicky, so here is a list of some of the easiest house plants to clone:

  1. Spider Plant
  2. English Ivy
  3. Aloe
  4. Rubber Tree
  5. Snake Plant
  6. Fiddle Leaf Fig
  7.  Potho
  8. Dracena

Most Succulents are fine.

Supplies: 

  1.      Small pots or Flats
  2.     A light potting soil with vermiculite or perlite or cacti soil
  3.     Rooting Hormone, although it may not be necessary
  4.     And your plant cuttings

Place the soil in the pots or flats  and lightly tamp it down, you still want the soil to be a little loose.  Take your cutting and place a small part of the bottom of stem in rooting hormone if you decide to give it a try , and place the stem in the soil as far as the rooting hormone is on the stem. Make sure the cuttings are placed in an area where the get their required amount of light.

Do not let the soil dry out for the first few weeks. The new roots are fragile and close to the soil’s surface so they can dry out quickly. It is also important not to keep them too damp or in a lot of humidity, this can cause them to rot and encourages mold  and fungi growth. Now its just a matter of waiting, some plants root more quickly than others so be patient. If you plan on cloning woody plants, landscape plants and / or other types of plants, there a few extra steps that need to be done, I will talk about those in another blog.