I have a bonsai that I have had for two years now. It has white around the limbs. I’ve included two attachments of picture’s. Are these mealy bugs or something else? Can you let me know what I can do to get rid of what it is before my plant dies? And how to avoid them in the future? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, but where the summer’s are hot.
I am far from an expert, so hopefully there is better advice coming. I can share that last year my Fukien Tea had what appeared to be something similar that produced a white residue. It turned out to be aphids, I also had a number of ants which are a symptom of aphids. I used a combination of Neem oil spray and dunking the entire pot in water for a half an hour or so to try and drown any in the roots. I used rubbing alcohol on a Q-Tip to clean up the areas with white residue. These actions seemed to take care of the issue as the tree has been thriving ever since.
Yesterday, I did use a Q-Tip with rubbing alcohol to remove them. Then, I diluted the alcohol with water and sprayed the plant. This morning I did notice more, but used the Q-Tip again.
I’m hoping I won’t kill it.
Is that black stuff too? Black stuff is “sooty mold,” which is old leftovers dew secretions from aphids/scale that the ants have eaten and/or pooped out. It’s a sign that aphids, scale, etc. were on the tree before and/or still.
Geez, my poor plant is getting it from everywhere.
I put rubbing alcohol on them with a Q-tip, then sprayed it with rubbing alcohol and water mix.
Is there anything you can suggest I do to help my bonsai?
It’s a good thing that you noticed these! So in addition to topical, I would suggest watering in a tree systemic that kills insects from the inside. I have had very good results using a systemic as soon as I see signs of pests.
I use both a systemic (once per year) and also a spray (mineral/horticultural oil, neem is similar).
Systemic is easier, as you don’t need to always spray.
I just went and bought neem oil. I don’t know what systemic is?
Systemic feed = Imidacloprid
I’ve had good results with systemics to fix a young 6yo JBP sapling with yellowing needles. I knew it wasn’t over-watering nor soil…because I have 3 other exact same aged JBPs with same watering, sunlight and soil. I suspect it had the not-so-known root-aphid problem (which can be difficult to fix I’ve read… some people soak the entire rootball in a bucket of potent ant-killer solution [I forget the chemical], which is a bit extreme).
After 4-6 months, for the first time in its’ life, its’ needles are not yellow anymore! It is dark dark green and very vigorous now! It had to be the systemic that fixed it! (since I haven’t done/changed anything else)
Hi Lisa! Yes, this does look like mealy bug, and the treatments above all sound good.
Taking a step back, where do you keep the tree (indoors or outside)? Am curious how much sunshine and fresh air the tree gets.
Thank you for answering me.
During the spring, summer, and fall I keep it outside. It does not gets lots of sunshine, but not direct sun. If it’s too hot I bring it in.
The winter I keep it indoors by a window. If it’s a nice day out, I’ll take it outside for awhile.
I water it, once a week. Sometimes in the winter once every two weeks. I feed it once a month.
I just noticed the white (mealy bugs), this past November.
Yesterday, I sprayed it with the neem oil and water solution.
Also, do I need to repot it?
The best time to repot is right before the new leaves come out in spring, so unless the soil smells bad or the water doesn’t drain well it can likely wait until next year.
The spray should help with the bugs. It’s really common for outdoor plants to get insects when they’re kept indoors so the more you can keep it outside the better. The tree is tough enough to be kept outside year round here in the Bay Area.