system maintenance

To the tune of the Jo Bros’ Burnin’ Up: I’m burnin’ out, burnin’ out, ’cause of COVID

But seriously. My own burnout has convinced me that it’s time to regroup, time to maintain my external and internal environments. Also a convincing factor was the discovery that some of my plants are in need of a little TLC – the parlor palm (Adora) has spider mites, the new maidenhair fern isn’t doing so hot, the orchid’s roots are bluing a bit, and the new bloodleaf is still suffering from what I call pot-shock. It’s time for system maintenance.

Let’s talk about what I’m doing to try and cure my parlor palm’s spider mite infestation, since this is new to me!

Spider Mite Rescue

Step One: Clean Leaves

My first job was to clean off the palm’s fronds. I made a mixture of 15 oz filtered water and 4 oz rubbing alcohol, sprayed that onto all of the fronds top and bottom, and gently wiped down each frond with a napkin.

You can see how damaged the little dude was looking in this photo.

Step Two: Cut off Un-rescuable Parts

Plenty of the plant wasn’t saveable. Those parts got pruned off and then the pruning shears got a good spraydown with the rubbing alcohol mixture to prevent the spider mites spreading to any other plants.

Look at the difference between the top left and bottom left photos, and you’ll see how much I had to cut back.

Step Three: Find Adora a New Home

Apparently dust and dehydration lead to spider mites. While it’s possible I was underwatering, the spot where Adora was is definitely dusty – it’s right near a vent.

So, I shifted her to another spot in the same room where she should still have good lighting but be less exposed to excess dustiness.

Step 4: Water and Fertilize

And finally, some more normal care – adding the lovely fertilizer I use and watering it into the soil. Apparently adding this fertilizer directly to roots can help prevent disease, but I didn’t want to uproot the plant if I didn’t have to. So, I just used it on the soil and watered in as I normally would. I gave the leaves a gentle bath too.

The neem oil I ordered is supposed to come later today, so hopefully I can give this little palm a nice spraydown today with that as well. Neem oil is a well-known product for curing and preventing spider mites.

And, a spot of unrelated good news – my totem pole cactus is growing! Of course, it’s a slow grower, but it has noticeable new height and is leaning less than it was when it was first repotted!

Look at him grow, giving me hope.


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