Poinsettias Insect Pests and Disease Management
Although the Christmas holidays come to an end and the warmer months arrive you can still keep your poinsettias growing healthy and thriving, one of the many challenges however is knowing how to continue to care for these garden beauties once the colder months have passed. Besides providing adequate moisture the proper lighting and the right amount of fertilizer there other maintenance practices that must be carried out which include insect pests and disease issues that may arise.
We will be discussing these issues and the proper management methods that can avoid these issues or bring control, with that said let’s take a closer look at how to control poinsettias and insect pests and diseases.
Poinsettias Insect Pests Control
Mealybug: Mealybugs are cottony white insects that do damage by sucking the plant’s fluids which cause yellowing and browning of the leaves followed by leaf drop. The excrements of mealybugs are sugary and are known as honeydew which attracts ants along with causing sooty mold to develop on the leaves. The use of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will bring control.
Whiteflies: Whiteflies are small white-winged insects that also do damage as mealybugs, to determine if your poinsettias have whiteflies gently shake the plant’s leaves but be very careful however because these poinsettias are delicate and will break easily if too much pressure is applied. So be very careful and shake the leaves if tiny white insects dislodged from the plant and then quickly fly back on your poinsettia you have whitefly issues. The use of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will bring control.
Thrips: Thrips are also among tiny insect pests that dose damage by extracting the plant’s fluids which leads to twisting, yellowing, and browning of the leaves followed by leaf drop. The saliva of thrips is also known to be toxic to plants, thrips are tiny rice-shaped like insects, that have slender bodies. Thrips have two sets of wings with distinctive featherlike hairs. Thrips can be controlled with either insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Fungus gnats: The larva of the fungus gnats are the culprits that do damage to plants by feeding on the root hairs and depleting the soil of essential nutrients. Damage also includes sudden yellowing of the plant’s leaves along with plant wilt, which leads to a weak and unhealthy plant. The adult fungus gnats have dark slender bodies, dark heads, and black wings.
The larvae are tiny translucent legless maggots with distinctive shiny black heads, A homemade remedy that can be used is hydrogen peroxide, ( the standard 3 % tropical variety). Thoroughly mix one part peroxide with four parts water followed by thoroughly drenching the soil till this mixture comes out of the pot or container drain holes. This solution acts as a contact and will kill larvae once they come in contact with it. Sticky card traps which can be purchased from your garden center will control adults.
Poinsettia Disease Control
Poinsettias can fall prey to disease if proper practices are not used, do not overwater that can lead to root rot, always check the first top few inches of soil to make the determination before giving your poinsettias water, remove dead leaves from the base of plants, avoid overhead irrigation (water plant) don’t let water get on the leaves, water from the soil level instead. Prune yellow leaves from plants, if any brown or dead leaves are resting on the soil surface at the base of your poinsettias then remove them as well.
Keep an eye out for powdery mildew, powdery mildew shows up as a white powdery or flour substance that covers the plant leaves, in server cases disease may spread to other parts of the plant. In extreme cases, it’s best to discard the entire plant, if the disease appears to be manageable only remove the diseased part with a hand pruner. A fungicide can also be used to control or eliminate powdery mildew. Apply fungicides every 2 weeks or follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results. The application of baking soda can also do wonders.
To mix the baking powder solution mix together 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of dish liquid in 1 gallon of water. Mix this solution thoroughly in a spray bottle and apply it on the plant’s leaves getting full coverage. Word of caution before mixing and applying this solution ensure that your poinsettias are well-watered a few days before proceeding with this application to avoid plant burn.
Additional information when using insecticides
- Follow the directions of the manufacturer for the best results
- If treating poinsettias outdoors don’t apply insecticides when the temperatures are high or too hot
- Don’t apply insecticides when the rain is forecast
- Apply insecticides during the early morning hours when it’s cool
- When applying insecticides ensure that the spray comes out misty and fine, and avoid coarse droppings
- When spraying get total coverage of both the top and undersides of the leaves
In case you missed it hearing is our most recent article on the growth and care of poinsettias indoors.
The final word on how to control poinsettias insect pests and diseases
Keeping your poinsettias healthy and thriving is that simple, following what we have discussed will ensure good success. With these measures in place, your poinsettias will grow and look their best year after year.
About the author
Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.