Can't identify whats ailing Sweet 100s

crist95February 10, 2014

Hello, I planted sweet 100s from Home Depot last August and been having some issues identifying what's ailing them. As shown in the picture I cannot determine what the white fuzz is. I've done extensive Googling but the only results pertain to leaf mold or the natural white hairs on the stem and this is neither. These are container plants on 22inch plastic home depot pots sitting on the water collecting dishes (term?) in a balcony 3 stories up. Yeah, bigger container would be better but i dont have the space. I do light weekly fertilizer with the blue Miracle Grow crystals. I have a bottle of Sevin that Ive never used. I try to keep them well watered. Any ideas what it could be?

I did make the mistake initially of planting too many together on the same pot. Currently there are about 4-5 on the same pot. Will try to post another pic soon to give a better idea.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.

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crist95

Another picture:

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 3:30PM
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crist95

Plant is healthier now but this is just to give an idea of the container and number of plants in the pot.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 3:39PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I believe the white stuff is mealy bugs. I've never had mealies on tomatoes, but apparently they can infest tomatoes. And mealies would explain the aphids.

Your plants are unhappy at least partially because the mealies and the aphids are literally sucking the life out of the plants.

My only experience with mealy bugs was on a succulent last fall. (It was recently purchased, and none of the other plants were bothered, so I'm assuming the mealies came from the vendor.)

When I had the succulent problem, I saw online that I could use the same spray I keep on hand for the pine sawfly larvae which denude my mugo pines: equal parts of water and isopropyl alcohol, with a squirt of mild dish soap as a sticker. (I've only used that spray on the mugo pines and the succulent: I don't know if it would damage tomato plants. Maybe test one plant to make sure the alcohol isn't too harsh for the plant.)

But if you can use that spray on tomatoes, it should take care of the aphids as well.

Soak all the areas where you see the white. (You can also wipe them off, but you should still spray.) Check every few days till you're sure they aren't returning.

Your "water dishes" can be referred to as "saucers." Be sure to drain them so your plants aren't standing in water.

To what strength are you diluting the Miracle Grow you're using?

When the plants are healthier, I'd leave the healthiest 2 in the pot (maybe 3: those are huge pots!) and cut the others off at the soil line.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:20PM
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crist95

Thanks for the reply! I normally get about a tablespoon of miracle grow in my watering can, fill it up and spread it proportionally to all my plants once a week. Not sure if its too little. I will make sure to pour out the excess water out of my saucers today and will try to remove the little bugs manually while i concoct a solution to spray.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 5:19PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Glad to help, crist95.

I'm hoping someone with more info than I have will speak up about the Miracle Grow; I don't know if it's likely to be too little or too much. How much does your watering can hold?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:26PM
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crist95

My watering can is 2 gallons. I've decided to introduce some lady bugs for a week or two before doing the soapy solution. Any comments on their potential effectiveness on a balcony container garden?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 10:41AM
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labradors_gw

I've heard that ladybirds will simply fly away!

I had mealy bugs in my garden last year. Before that, I always thought they only attacked houseplants "LOL>. They were all over my hostas, and they infected two of my 21 tomato plants. I managed them by picking them off and my plants survived and produced fruit. I was amazed that they confined themselves to only two plants!

I'd be careful of the miracle grow. If your potting soil also contains fertilizer, you could possibly be giving them too much, and over-fertilized plants can be a magnet to insects in much the same way as weak/sick ones are.

Good luck!
Linda

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 11:06AM
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crist95

Thank you Linda,

The soil that I am fertilizing had been around since July before i started fertilizing in December. While I've noticed the mealys before the fertilization, my plants do look much livelier after I started fertilizing. The problem is that it is fruiting time and just when I thought I was going to begin reaping, the mealies/aphids got a little greedy.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 12:01PM
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crist95

So Ive been introducing the lady birds little by little in the evenings to have them tag along a while. They leave come daytime but maybe theyll lay eggs. Im wondering if my sweet 100s look healthy from this picture taken today. In my next picture my question is, can all aphids be eradicated or is a small amount of aphids ever normal?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:47AM
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crist95

Heres zooming into one of the few branches that I found with some aphids.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:50AM
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labradors_gw

That plant looks good to me! Well done!

I would continue to remove any aphids that you see. The odd one isn't going to do too much harm, but they reproduce like rabbits so you will have to be very vigilant.

Good luck!
Linda

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:58AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

That's a great improvement in just a few days!

Do keep after the aphids, or they'll sneak up on you....

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 12:17PM
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crist95

Thanks! As you can see I've introduced tomato cones because of the thin stems falling to the sides. I will keep monitoring for aphids. Maybe one of these days I'll get something edible too!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:16PM
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crist95

UPDATE: These guys are growing BIG! Yet the bounty isn't exactly great. They seem to be taking forever to turn red. Fighting mealyworms with water/soap. Is there ANY way to stunt the growth of the plant w/o hurting it?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 2:36PM
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crist95

Another picture...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 2:38PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I always seem to get bugs and diseases when I buy transplants. The only ones that were without both I bought at the high school Ag. center. I try to remember to look underneath the leaves before I buy any plant. I'm amazed at how many have bugs on them. Your plants look so much better!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 3:41PM
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