Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Orchid Dilemma

I have been wanting to take photos outside this week of some of the autumn colours in my ornamental grasses but we have had a week of really gusty winds. The trees are being defoliated in front of our eyes.  As fast as you rake the leaves in piles they have blown away.
So, I ask myself now what? The Sandbox has gone dormant or al least almost.  There are no more flowers to play with this year outside.  I have dragged all the houseplants back into the basement to overwinter under lights.  I might have a Christmas cactus to show you in a few days.
In the past I have shown you photos of my orchids.  I was quite proud of them and the blooms were prolific. But sadly, an orchid that my husband bought me for my birthday last year brought in a pest.  I wondered why my original orchids were dropping blooms very quickly and the leaves becoming brown.   Looking at the leaves of the plants I noticed what looked like cotton wool in an around where the leaves came out of the stem and the petals of the flowers were covered in little bugs that were white and oval shaped.   Originally I thought it was scale but it turned out to be a close relative the longtailed mealybug or Pseaudacoccus longispinus.
Mealybug
The mealybug, as I have investigated is a difficult pest to erradicate as it can crawl from plant to plant or pot to pot. Mealybugs can be found on all plant parts, but especially roots, rhizomes, pseadobulbs and the underside of leaves.   Control of this pest is basically daily observation to see if any new eruptions occur.   If I do spy new outbreaks I swab the infected parts with a paint brush and isopropol making sure I get into all the cracks and crevices where the leaves meet the stem.  Today I noticed the mealybug in the photo above.   All the plants went into the bathtub for a good spray of Safer’s Insecticidal soap.   
new growth

Some of the plants are trying to recover and so I am waiting a little while to see if they start to produce flowers again.   If the pest persists I will have to put all of the plants out in the garbage. 
new phalanopsis 2-10
This is the same plant before the mealybugs.   It is such a shame.  Maybe faux flowers is the way to go in winter.   If you want to investigate this pest for yourself there is great information at www.sdstate.edu/ps/severin.mcdaniel/orchid-pests.     I am sharing this post on Fertilizer Friday with Tootsie.   See you there.  Have a great weekend.   Valerie

16 comments:

Floridagirl said...

Thanks for sharing this info. I hope your orchids all make it. I truly can feel your pain. I have 15+ orchids these days out in the Orchid Room, and after five relatively carefree, bloomiferous years, they suffered an onslaught of Orchid Mites this past spring. They were devastated, made worse by my not recognizing the symptoms right off. Very sad. I've had to toss two plants, but the others seem to be in recovery mode. It pays to be vigilant when bringing in new stuff and inspecting the old.

Shirley said...

Oh, that is a shame. Hopefully you can eradicate the little menace and rejuvenate your wonderful orchids.

Crafty Gardener said...

Those darn mealy bugs ... hope you get them. I'm sharing the last of the garden blooms today as well. My Christmas Cactus did give off a bloom or two just after Thanksgiving.

fairegarden said...

I am so sorry, Valerie. Here we do what is called the dunk of death. A large tub is filled with a strong mix of Sevin, bad I know, but we have a lot of orchids and cannot have pests brought into the house. I dip the whole thing, using a cup to pour the mix over every part. I do it twice, usually in September, letting the buggies crawl out of the pot before bringing it inside.
Frances

Lavender Cottage said...

Hi Val
That's a great close-up of a mealy bug.
Have a good time this weekend - shop 'till you drop girlfriend!
Judith

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

So sorry about your beautiful plant. I am always fighting some kind of bugs on many different plants outside. Knock on wood I haven't had any trouble inside this year. I have lost whole plants in the past.

Karen said...

Oh, it's always something, isn't it? I have always had problems overwintering just the more common plants too, we always have to be on the lookout for bugs of some type or another. What a shame about your gorgeous orchids, I hope you can save the ones you have left. They are so beautiful!

Dragonfly Treasure said...

OH! Those darn little buggers!! They are such a pain! Sure hope your beautiful orchids make it through.
*hugs*deb

Greenearth said...

What beautiful orchids but mealy bugs are a pain.

My approach is to wipe them off with a damp tissue and give the plant a tonic.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

That's so sad! Hope the wretched little critters don't get the lot.

Lori E said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO that is terrible. Dirty rotten bugs.
I hope you don't lose them all.

Poetic Shutterbug said...

OH, that is so sad but thank you for sharing this info with us. I hope the ones left will be okay.

Beth said...

So sorry this has happened to your orchids, and best of luck! I'd hate to have you throw them out!
Beth

Betty Jo said...

OMGosh! Your orchid is soooo beautiful! So sorry this has happened.

Betty Jo said...

PS: I meant to say I didn't know what tilt shift photography is either, but I gave the links a try that Ashley gave us. It's okay, but wouldn't be something I'd spend a lot of time with. I prefer other types of photography. I'm learning a lot of new things through the scavenger hunt though and I love that.

Georgianna said...

How sad if you have to lose all your orchids, Val. I don't have a lot of indoor plants but I can see how devastating this pest can be. I hope it's eradicated soon and your lovely plants are blooming again. – g