House Plants/Neanthe Bella Palm past infestation?
I recently bought a neanthe Bella palm and a small peperomia obtusifolia from my local nursery to liven up my house and loved these two for their "compatibility" and safety with pets. They aren't under kitty or doggy invasion, but I'm concerned my palm was previously infested with possible spider mites causing some "deformities" in it's appearance. There were dead leave tips, mild leaf discoloration, dead to a crisp juvenile growth, and some growth you'll be able to see in the top that seemed to be sealed shut by dryness instead of opening up like the leaves below. The newest growth seems to be forming and opening up healthy with no signs of dried edges. I've trimmed the dead growth back. I was cleaning the leaves off with a damp cloth as an extra measure to combat any possible left over pests (although with numerous check overs there are no signs of any), assuming it was mites, and noticed hard as a rock "sap" on a couple of the stems. Is that a sign of a previous mite infestation or some other past or present ailment? Should I trim those stems or just wash them off? I've kept it in the original 1.77 quart pot and soil I purchased it in and it receives constant indirect sunlight away from my northwest facing windows. Soil is never soggy wet, nor is it ever really dry to the touch. I even have care instructions on bright yellow post it notes attached on each of my plant pots for the proper care and conditions needed, especially for when someone needs to watch my plants while I'm away. If I could upload more pictures, I would. Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns and questions.
Thanks for posting the photos. Your Bella Palm definitely had a spider mite infestation. I can see evidence of the damage they caused - the mottled appearance on the leaves. This Palm is highly susceptible to spider mite infestations and will need constant monitoring going forward.
Spider mites are so tiny, only a very experienced eye can really tell if they are now completely gone. I suggest that you fill a sink with soapy water. Then invert the plant and swirl all of the leaves around in the soapy water to ensure complete coverage of all leaf and stem surfaces. This is more effective than wiping or even thorough spraying.
Spider mites are much more likely to attack a plant that is under stress for some reason - usually improper watering and drought in particular. It was whatever caused that stress that also probably caused those couple of stems to leak sap. Cut those stems off at the base as they will gradually die anyway. It is not evidence of a pest infestation.
It is good that you avoided repotting, which is the most common mistake folks make.
The light you are providing is adequate as long as the plant is just barely beyond the direct rays of the afternoon sun. Bella Palms are very unforgiving of even minor watering lapses. I'm sure your care instructions are very good, but that does not mean that those who care for your plants in your absence will follow them as precisely as may be needed. You might consider using a reservoir and wick system as an alternative for when you are away. Let me know if you need more information on that.
I have written articles on treating plant pests and on Palm care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com. You can also email additional photos to me at that address.
Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.
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Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC
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