Fertilizers include two components:
macro and micronutrients. The macros are listed prominently by three numbers e.g.: 10-10-10. They stand for Nitrogen-Phosphurus-Potassium
or N-P-K. Most plants require these in fairly substantial amounts and the micronutrients in somewhat smaller amounts. Micronutrients
include: Iron, Magnesium,
Fertilizers shouldn't come in contact with any portion of a plant including the trunk and stems.
Remember it's the roots that are being nourished so broadcast lightly in the root zone and just beyond.
Problem Pests should be dealt with immediately
and the routine continued for several weeks so that hatching eggs do not reinfest the plant. A number of solutions are
very effective and safe. Isolate the plant(s) if possible. In a spray bottle mix a quart of water with one teaspoon liquid
(non-germicidal) soap. In another spray bottle mix a quart of water and a teaspoon of vegetable or cooking oil (shake before
use.) Alternate using the two weekly until the pest problem is eradicated. After an initial spray manually remove the
pests if the infestation is heavy with q-tip or a gentle water spray. These can be used quite effectively against many common
pests including the following:
Thrips commonly cause damage to flowering
by plants nestling among petals and discoloring the leaves. They are tiny long black insects that are apparent around flowers.
Aphids are prolific breeders. Once they
multiply they can cause damage quickly. They suck out plant juices usually from underneath tender plant leaves where they
are hidden from view. Aphids also excrete a sticky substance known as honeydew, a sugary deposit that encourages fungus. See
an ant? Check for aphids. Ants love the honeydew and will even "farm" the aphids on your plants.
Whiteflies cling to the bottoms of leaves. They
are usually exposed when leaves are disturbed. They are especially difficult because they spread so easily and quickly.
Red spider mites leave web-like strands between leaves. They are otherwise difficult to detect but they
are destructive, biting and tearing at plant tissue.
Mealy bugs are evident by little white cotton wool-looking blobs that appear
at the leaf joints and close to the stems and near the veins. These are homes for mealy bugs. Heavy infestations can be destructive.
Manually remove and also spray.
Scale insects lay their eggs in little blister or scale-like clusters.
Of course they will usually be under leaves or near stems. These scales act as incubators for eggs and can be eradicated
by scraping off visible scales and then spraying weekly.
Depending on the severity of the infestation, repeated sprays over the course of a few weeks will contain
the problem. Sprays containing the following pesticides may also be effective: permethrin, pyrethrum, derris, and malathion.