Mites indoors with dormant plumeria????

bstew(z8 Dallas)January 12, 2005

Is it normal to have spider mites while your leafless plant is dormant indoors for the winter? Just noticed the little red dots crawling around on it this week, and figured out what they were after researching this forum. Wonder where those little guys came from?

I've heard they like warm & dry conditions, so maybe that explains it. Do they feed off of the leaves or the entire plant? All mine has right now is a baby inflo (about five" tall), but I noticed some tiny black spots of damage at the base of the inflo this week. Maybe they're attacking it?

I just read about the mild dish soap spray (no antibacterials) so I'll try that remedy. I don't want them to kill my first inflo (the stalk is only about 5" tall, with the little bud/stems a little bigger than a piece of rice). I assume the dish soap remedy will be safe for a plant in dormancy, and the inflo? Any other tricks? Thanks again.

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pharoah(Sherman Oaks CA)

Mites are very very common on Plumies that are indoors. Yes, you are right, they thrive in dry, warm conditions, and also areas without good circulation. They will suck the life out of your Plumeria (eventually) if you do not try and control them. They can damage your inflo and cause it not to bloom.

Neem oil is an effective treatment. You can also spritz the Plumie with water (they hate water). Usually once you bring them back outdoors they will go away, but I would hate to see you lose your inflo.

Good luck

    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 3:20PM
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bstew(z8 Dallas)

Thanks -- I didn't have any Neem oil on hand and I wanted to treat it right away so I tried the dish soap & water spray. I didn't notice the critters crawling around this morning, but I'll still repeat the treatment each week or so until it warms up. I did notice that the inflo stalk has a yellowish hue to it, and some small black spots on some of the baby flower stems/buds.

It also looks like, although the tree has been dormant indoors the last couple months, the inflo has been slowly progressing. Wonder if that's normal, or if the little guy would like some water & window light since he's trying to grow???

    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 6:00PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

The inflo may or may not develop properly indoors regardless of mites. It might depend on how much light, humidity and warmth you can give your plant.

For mites, I use 1 part Neem to 1 part ultra-fine horticultural oil, mixed in water. I spray both surfaces of leaves as well as the growing tips several days in succession. You want to build up a light coating of oil which suffocates the mites.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2005 at 8:46AM
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Diane_n_Andy_NZ(Wlg NZ)

We've got a young frangipani tree growing in NZ, indoors in the pool room - with red spider mite! We've tried spraying with Neem oil (mixed with water), and the tree lost nearly all of its leaves! The next season the leaves came back - but so have the mites... We're rather nervous to spray again with Neem - but perhaps we'll try mixing with the ultra-fine horticultural oil as above.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 4:36AM
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Klodec(France 8b)

Maybe this may sound stupid, but it seems to work :
To get rid of spider mites, I've used simple olive oil, when the plumerias were nearly leafless. Now the stem are healthy, claws are slowly popping despite the lack of light, and Mites have dissapeared. Why I did that ? By pure intuition, I wanted to suffocate the spider mites. I have found by experience that water spraying is not enough. When the water drops evaporates, eggs give a new generation of pests, and the nightmare still goes on. Furthermore, water alone doesn't kill spider mites, it simply disturb them for a while.
For personnal reason, I don't want to use chemicals on my plants, so I started to think... I came to the conclusion that I need something to soak and glue totally the mites, and then reduce their mobility to null.
I was afraid at first that the oil could damage the plant, but until now it is OK...
I'm currently having success with the easy affordable olive oil, even on seedlings.

I think this method is valuable with leafless plumeria : I suspect that leaves will suffer somehow if soaked with oil.

again this may sound stupid, but I'm glad to short circuit the chemical industry with this. They say you need product X for this or that. But everything is already in your kitchen.

I've heard of the dish soap method, and they say it works too...
Increasing air circulation (fan) discourage the infestation, but It can propagate mites to other donwstream plants...

Your opinions are welcomed !

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 6:08PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Another remedy mentioned by some is to dilute rubbing alcohol with water 1:1 and spray with that. I can't attest to the success.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 8:39AM
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Seaninoro(Z9 CA)

Are these mites about the size of a speck of dust? I have recently imaged a mite which causes the necrosis and took a few developing bloom clusters with it. This also appears to be the one which caused tips on a plant of mine to abscise last year. I thought it was a fungi.

Here is a link that might be useful: The mite I mention

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 6:55PM
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Klodec(France 8b)

Interresting pages from Seaninoro, with interresting pics and topics.
This is obvious that spider mites, like any parasitic insect, can inoculate diseases to their host plant - sadly, including plumeria - so they may be the vector of black tip fungus for example, or prepare the condition for a severe black tip fungus attack just by weakening the plant. They probably can inoculate other viruses (mosaic).
I've noticed that some healthy plumeria seems to have a natural defense against mites and other insects : Have you ever noticed the mucus, often present glueing young leaves in the apex core ? I believe this is to protect the growing tip (meristem) from dessication and probably to prevent mites to damage young leaves and tissues at a sensitive stage of their developpment. But if the infestation is too important, these defenses can be defeated, and the plumeria can suffer if you don't help them out.

Update about my previous post in this thread :
As I told you before (see above in this thread), I used simple olive oil on my leafless indoor plumeria. : It Works ! Now each specimen wear healthy leaves without pests. My seedlings (dormant) were treated the same and they are alive and kicking now, with no pests so far !
I'm growing other plants (Sambac jasmines) near my plumeria.
They were infected too, and I found it very difficult to get rid of spider mites on these plants.
But lately, I sprinkled these plants with a strong water hose, carefully washing on both sides of the leaves, for several minutes.
I repeated this treatment more than once in the same day, to be sure that no pest are left on the plant. To my surprise, it is effective until now, and my jasmine has leaves healthier than ever, and free of any spider mite.

So again I think the simpler solutions, effective at no cost is to wash away the plant with simple plain water. Just as simple as that ! don't forget that wild plumeria are trees, and they survive by themselves, despite pests attacks. In their native environment, heavy rains are common, but insecticide showers are rare, (LOL !) but plummies do thrive without chemicals !
So again my choice is clear and simple : Wash away the spider mites with simple water, do it on a regular basis, increase air circulation. Then you will never need dangerous chemicals anymore.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 6:44PM
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Seaninoro(Z9 CA)

Very interesting to note the Olive Oil and will look into that for next year, as a preventative treatment. Very much thanks Klodec for all of the information. Now if only I could keep these plants outdoors all year long and not have them suffer too terribly.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 5:12PM
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Klodec(France 8b)

I guess other vegetable kitchen oils can do the same job. I used olive oil only because it was available to me at that time... This one is more expensive !
The purpose was only to glue the spider mites : sooner or later they will die ... ! and it seems to be harmless to the plant.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 10:11PM
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Anela(Z6 Ks.)

Hi all, I'm new to growing plumeria and just purchased two rooted cuttings. My question is to Klodec or anyone who can help...I'm very interested in the olive oil method for spider mites but was wondering if you could tell me how it's applied? Do you mix with water and spray or just rub it on the stem? Also, are you doing this before it's brought in for winter when the leaves are taken off?? Any help in this would be greatly appreciated :)...I also have 11 passion flowers that will be brought in with the plummie. So spider mites are most likely going to appear. thanks in advance

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 11:36AM
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Klodec(France 8b)

Hi Anela !

I have used olive oil last november, basically with leafless or nearly leafless plumeria, even on seedlings.
I simply rub the oil on the stem, on the apex, and on some leaves that were left on the plant, destined to fall anyway so I did'nt matter if it was harmful to them.

Again, my purpose was simply to glue the mites and I guess sooner or later kill them. Their mobility reduced to zero, they cant attack the growing point anymore, like they always do, the nasty bugs !

Now lets come to the results : Every plumeria plant I've treated this way is alive, full of leaves, with no spider mites !

I'm not sure this simple method can be successful and harmless with any plant, at any given stage of their growth. On some plants, oil can simply kill the plant as well, I believe, and leaves may lose the ability to breathe and exchange gazes.

For these reasons, I consider 'my' (it's not copyrighted yet !) method as purely experimental and should be validated. It should not be generalized without cautions. I suggest that you try first on somes leaves and young shoots to see if they tolerate it. Having a further conclusion if it is safe or not may require more or less time, depending on the different species.

I'm not sure mixing oil with water will help, as water and oil don't mix anyway.
Again, I suppose any other oil may have the same results. Olive oil is maybe too expensive for this new use. or maybe, I don't know, some chemical compounds specific to olive oil are active... who knows...

Another home made recipe I tried : chilli water. Add pepper or chilli powder to water, and mist the solution on leaves... I've red this somewhere on a gardenweb forum...
I tried it last year on some plumeria. Funny though, the leaves turned reddish (red chilli powder) for a while. I'm not sure of the results, and a new spider mites colony appeared back again a while after this treatment. Maybe it just disturb them for some time, limiting their extend until they get used to it...

Feel free to let me know your results, if you experiment with olive or other oils on plumeria...

Good luck, and be the plumeria force be with you !
(citation from the famous film 'Spider Mites Wars')

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 12:40AM
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Anela(Z6 Ks.)

:O) Thanks Klodec!
I think I might give it a try as I'm not a real fan of using chemicals. So far anything I have brought in the house for winter, even the ones outside during growing season I mix some lemon dawn dish soap and water and give them a bath making sure the water flows through the holes in the pot. This has worked but after reading your first post on olive oil it does make alot of sense. Now I'm sure (as with anything) to much could do some harm. It would be great if you could keep us posted on how the plants you have already used this on continue to do. flowering, leaves etc.? Mahalo for the great experimenting!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 12:26PM
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Klodec(France 8b)

I will do so ! Glad to share Infos with whoever may need it!

I'm not a chemical fan myself too ! some are not safe at all (toxic by inhalation, skin contact) and not very selective : kill or stunt every insect, including useful ones - bees - sphinx and other butterflies - ladybug ..., could be harmful to your pets too.
Furthemore, I was never satisfied with the results of chemicals, particularly with spider mites. Whatever you do to kill and get rid of them, they seem to survive and come back again, sometimes stronger than before the chemical treatment !
Ooops ! I did it again ! : A few hours before this writing, I've applied olive oil on new green leaves of one of my plumeria. It was too near a plant (a jasmine) that had spider mites. I noticed they were some of these nightmares wandering on young plumeria leaves. So I soaked a paper towel with olive oil, and wash the mites away on both sides of the leaves. I soaked the stem too with oil to make a barrier to the climbing spider mites on their way to the apex.
I've treated a Sambac Jasmine too the same way, but as I don't know if it can stand olive oil, I've made a test on some leaves, skipping others.

I Will tell you if the plumeria is happy with it !
Bye !

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 10:51PM
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wanda662(Stuart, Fl)

I have used murphys oil and dish soap mixed with water and it has killed mealy bugs, scale and spider mites with no ill effect on my Plumeria, hoya and hibiscus. You do have to be careful if the plant is out side in full sun, only apply early morning or late at night. You don't want to burn the leaves.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 5:49AM
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bstew(z8 Dallas)

Just an update from my original post at the beginning of this thread:
I tried the water & dish soap spray and it solved the problem. I didn't notice any more mites for the rest of the winter while the plant was indoors. It even put on about 4 blooms during the winter (white with yellow centers). I guess the light from the window was just enough to do the trick.
Now it's been outside for a few weeks, and the rest of the inflo seems to be developing right along, so I may get a few more blooms out of this little guy.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 2:54PM
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Klodec(France 8b)

My Update :

Well, need to tell you about my experiment with olive oil against spider mites :
Young leaves on the plumeria suffered a little of the oil application. some brown spot appeared, scattered across the leaf surface. But for now, leaves are still green, and brown spots are small enough. The oily leaves look like they will survive.
The essential is here : mites are gone - probably to hell where they belong - as far as I can tell.

The dark side of the Force : Jasmine (Sambac) leaves which were treated the same way are now discoloured, looking partially translucent, brownish. Green places still remain on these leaves and I think they will survive, although they are damaged.
To help it recover, I've rinsed thoroughly the plant in order to wash away the excess of oil.

My conclusion : I believe that using oil (olive or other vegetable oil) can be useful against spider mites, but use it with the following cautions :
On plumeria, this should be considered as a Autumn / Winter preventative treatment. I found it is safe to apply on the stem and apex of dormant plumeria. The oil can stay the entire winter on the plant.
- in spring or summer, if you must fight a mite infestation, you can use it, but I strongly suggest to avoid the oil to soak the leaves for too long. You can leave it for one day, and then you must wash away the excess of oil with a water hose. A stem application is safe, and would prevent the mites travelling up to the apex.
These caution rules apply to other plants that can be eventually more sensitive to oil.

In short : oil is best for winter treatment.
For the times when Plumeria are out of dormancy, washing away the mites with water alone or with dish soap (small amount) are safer. do it on a regular time schedule, say once a week : Plumeria and other plants will take benefit of this moisture.

Et Voilà ! Your comments are welcome if you find something to add to this short experiment.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 8:09PM
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Anela(Z6 Ks.)

Thank you Kondec for trying this. It's good to know that during the winter there were no ill effects. especially since it seems that (at least for me) spider mites only seem to be a huge problem in the house over winter! Hopefully all will recover for your plants :O). I just received my San germain and Thornton Symphony today and potted them up I know the pots I put them in are way too big right now but I'll be sure to not water as much and hope that the roots fill them up quickly! Thanks again for all the info on this olive oil experiment. I guess olive oil (or any oil) needs to be reserved for tanning and not the plant but I am definitely gonna try it over winter.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 11:38PM
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Happy Christmas everyone!

Being relatively new to growing more or less anything in England, and merely dreaming of fabulously fragrant frangi flowers come summer, or even late spring, I didn't cotton on to the realisation that my plant, which is growing leaves at a fantastic rate, has acquired a red spider mite infestation - until today!

So! I've just carried out a fair bit of research, including on here of course, and have come across discussion of the natural predator phytoseiulus persimilis. This is available commercially in the UK, so I'll get some as soon as I can, but it being Christmas that might take a few days. Meanwhile, I'll spray leaves all over every day, but with water only, though maybe with a mild soap solution first.

I appreciate that some have had success with it, but to me the idea of coating my plant with any kind of oil just doesn't seem right, as it will prevent breathing through the leaves.

Has anyone on here had any experience of using phytoseiulus?

There is some detail in this informative pdf (which also discusses other treatments, so please ignore the "spray with insecticide" stuff!):
and here: (scroll down to Spider Mite)

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 6:49AM
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This isn't just a bump! ...although there've been no replies to my post on Christmas Day. Surely there are others out there who are growing indoors?

Since that day, I've given the plant a good shower, with a hand-held shower head. Twice. I reckoned that just using a hand spray wouldn't be a strong enough jet of water to dislodge anything hanging on fast. I used the lower setting of my shower, with tepid water, for a sub-tropical downpour rather than a full-on monsoon. I taped a carrier bag around the stalk first, covering the whole of the top of the pot.

Anyway, there *appear* to be no mites left. However, one or two white specks are a bit of a worry, as they might be particularly sticky eggs.

My theory is that this means of getting rid of them will succeed if I'm persistent with it (every four or five days) and also hand spray both sides of the leaves often (every day or two). I'm pretty sure that the plant loves it and certainly I'm much happier doing this using an oil or insecticide.

PS. Greenclaws - love your photo! Whereabouts in England are you? It could be almost anywhere rural, I thought.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 8:43AM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Hi, firstly a Happy New Year to all out there.

Secondly, when my plumie was in leaf I thought it had spider mites, but I always thought these were red in colour, can they come in cream colour as I had a load of microscopic mites that were definately not red....thankfully, I got rid of them by carefully squashing the pesky criters. They also made a fine webbing especially on the underside of the leaves, so do you reckon they too were spider mites in disguise? : ¬ )

Thirdly, msg for Freshwater, I have emailed you a moment ago.

OK, Seasons Greetings to all, Greenclaws.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 12:55PM
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Yes, a Happy New Year to everyone.

Hi, Greenclaws. Sorry, your email didn't get to me. I'm sure you had spider mite.

Quoting from the website article that I've referenced above: >

Many of the leaves on mine had the tell-tale fine webbing on the undersides of the leaves, with a lot of the little white eggs attached. The fine light brown speckling that older leaves get was appearing on brand new leaves at an alarming rate, but they are looking good now and long may that continue.

Greenclaws, I saw when I revisted one of the messages you posted on an earlier thread that you are in Staffs. From the photo you must be in about the best part of it.
Wooo! We've been having some weather lately! Little chance of my plants ever going outside for more than a day or two at a time down here in Cornwall. I'm about to move to the very far end, near St Just, and to say it is exposed is an understatement! :-)

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 4:46AM
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Hi, im new to all this, except for the spider mite catastrophe, which is scaring me to death. my Mom just passed away 2 months ago and she is the one who gave me my clipping that grew into "Big-John". he's about 3 or four years old and has spent alot of time being moved indoors and out. now my hsuband and i have moved to Arizona, and he not only made the trip, he gave me appx. 50 or so blossoms before the A-holes showed up! At this point, he's taller than me, 5'6", and still has plenty of leaves, bad looking and new ones, but from reading all this, i'm afraid of losing him. i would just curl up and die!!!!. i've been wiping the leaves, and spraying them with VF-11 and water, but its the webbing everywhere, and the guys are now all over the window sill, and the floor around the plant, that is so time consuming, with my 11month old baby, I dont know what to do. im going nuts! i'm going to try the soap and water spray now, but do i need to soak the whole pot with it? i mean the top layer of pebbles and the 3 "branches"? im afraid to "water" my baby with a solution of soap and water. Anyone have any suggestions? By the way, if i dnot type perfectly, just bear wih me, ok? i have M.S. and my hands dont always hit the right keys. thanks for listening, and any help that anyone may have! -Deb

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 4:21PM
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