Help Desk Software

Common Issues

Proper Planting

Is essential to ensure successful establishment and growth of a new plant. Improper planting is one of the most common reasons that plants fail to thrive.

The most common issues are:

  1. Improper Depth – Plants that are set too deep or too shallow will grow weaker as the plant matures and is unable to gain the nutrients it needs. The root ball should be slightly higher than the soil’s surface.
  2. Preparation of the Root Zone – Roots must radiate outward from the base of the plant. Any curling of a root will worsen as the plant matures. The proper way to set a plant is first by excavating a large enough hole to accommodate the entire root zone. The planting hole should be 1.5 times the size of the root zone. Filling of the soil must be done gradually. Partially filling with soil and saturating the hole with water to allow for even compaction of soil within the root zone. Repeat this process every few inches until the soil reaches just below the root ball.

Proper Pruning

Is essential to control growth, improve flowering and promoting overall good health and aesthetic look of the plant. Removing too much foliage will weaken the plant so it is imperative to only remove what is necessary which varies by plant type. To maintain proper structure and full body of the plant, it should be pruned in a pyramid fashion, larger at the bottom gradually shrinking towards the top. This will ensure that sunlight is able to reach the entire length of the plant so growth fills in evenly. Some plants should only be pruned during certain times of the year.

Aphids

Aphids

Aphids

Are soft bodied, pear shaped insects that vary in color depending on their feeding source. Aphids damage ornamentals by sucking plant juices, which distorts new growth making the leaves curl. They also carry diseases which will damage the host plant. Aphids reproduce rapidly. They produce honeydew which attracts a variety of ant species which feed on the honeydew. If you have aphids, you will typically have an ant problem as well.

Lace Bugs

Lace Bugs

Lace Bugs

Are small flat insects with lacy looking wings. They are common on Azaleas, Hawthornes and Sycamore Trees. Lace Bugs damage leaves by sucking plant juices and distorting new growth. The top of a leaf blade damaged by Lace Bugs will appear speckled, while the underside will reveal the active insect and black spots of excrement.

Scale

Scale

Scale

There are many varieties of scale insects affective Florida plants. They can be categorized into two different types: armored scale and soft scale. They damage ornamentals by sucking plant juices and distorting new growth. They can also attach to plant branches and stems causing die back. Some scales are plant specific while others such as Tea Scale can damage different types of shrubs. Control can be difficult on armored scale as their protective covering is impervious to insecticides.

Thrips

Thrips

Thrips

Are small long bodied rasping-sucking insects. They breed rapidly in large numbers and can cause severe damage in a short time. The Chili Thrip in particular is a serious threat to Indian Hawthorne. Thrips also carry viruses that can infect plants. They scrape away plant material and suck the plant juices from the under side of leaf blades resulting in curling and discolored streaks.

Spider Mites

Spider Mites

Spider Mites

Are in the arachnid family. Unlike insects, they have 8 legs. Mites have needle like piercing sucking mouth parts and they feed on the underside of leaves. They are extremely small and difficult to spot with the naked eye. They prefer warm and dry conditions. Damage from mites will appear stipled and dull looking, eventually falling off.

Caterpillars

Caterpillar

Caterpillar

Are the larval stage of moths or butterflies. They damage ornamentals by chewing on the foliage. Some caterpillar species can defoliate an entire shrub overnight. Common types of caterpillars will host on Azaleas, Oak Trees, Oleander and many more. Because of their destructive eating habits, it is important to gain control quickly.

Cercospora

Cercospora

Cercospora

Is an ornamental disease commonly found on Azaleas, Legustrum and Pittosporum. Lesions are generally rounded with a yellowish discoloration on the outside and brown in the center. Unfortunately, Cercospora damage is irreversible. Fungal sprays will stop the spread but only new growth will replace the damaged leaf blades.

Entomosporium

Entomosporium

Entomosporium

Is the most common disease on Indian Hawthorne and Photinia. It hinders photosynthesis by damaging the internal structure of the leaf blade weakening the plant progressively. It is characterized by small brown dots on affected leaves. Foliar sprays will neutralize the fungus, however this is a secondary disease resulting from cultural imbalances such as excessive humidity and moisture.

Iron Deficiencies

Iron Deficiency

Iron Deficiency

Are characterized by yellowing of the leaf blades. In some plants, this can be reversed while in others only new growth will replace the affected leaves. Iron deficiencies can be the result of insufficient iron in the soil or high pH of the soil, making heavy elements unavailable to the plant.

Manganese Deficiencies

Manganese Deficiency

Manganese Deficiency

Are particularly common in Sagos and Ixora. They are characterized by yellowing of the leaf blades. In some plants, this can be reversed while in others only new growth will replace the affected leaves. Manganese deficiencies can be the result of insufficient Manganese in the soil or high pH of the soil, making heavy elements unavailable to the plant. Applying additives such as lime will raise the pH and allow the plant to absorb heavy elements.

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