Posted in Gardening, Hopeless, Stuff I do

(Mis)Adventures of a DIY gardener (part-2)

My regular readers (hey Mom! *waves*) would recall part 1 of this post, in which I wrote about the gorgeous allamanda that graced the top of the trellis in my courtyard.

It took so many months for it to grow lush and dense, covering the trellis and shading the courtyard underneath….

All to be destroyed by the vile mealy bugs!! Aarghh!!

Yes, there was another infestation. And this one was worse than any I’ve seen before, so complete was the havoc it wreaked. I guess I lost not just the battle, but even the will to grow any more allamanda. It’s all over, folks.  I mean, just LOOK what it did to my beautiful trellis 😦

after i had finished cutting and dragging off ALL the horribly infested branches and stems

For the uninitiated, mealy bugs are possibly THE WORST kind of pest to infect succulent plants. They feed on plant sap by attaching themselves to the undersides of leaves (all the better not to be seen, tricksy little buggers) and secrete a waxy powdery layer to protect themselves while they suck the juices right out.

You know your plant is infected with them when you see colourless drops of honeydew appear on the leaves. A sooty mould soon forms on the honeydew secretions, the plant takes on a sickly appearance, the stem distorts and the leaves start to shrivel and drop. Weakened plants succumb to fungi and rot.

To set things straight, I TRIED. I tried VERY HARD. In fact I have been fighting mealy bugs all of my adult gardening life. I have plucked them out with tweezers. I have tweaked them off with toothpicks and cotton buds dipped in nailpolish remover. I have painstakingly and delicately spent hours wiping them off with damp cloth. I even made litres and litres of soap-water solutions and went crazy with the spray gun (apparently, soap is the only thing that penetrates the protective covering of the damned bugs), followed by further sessions with pesticides, no holds barred. I even succeeded in eradicating them a couple of times, but ultimately, those were just small battles. It was the whole damned war I lost!!

This infestation didn’t just suck the life out of my lovely allamanda….I guess it was a shoulder-slumping moment for me too.

In a way it was almost a relief to accept defeat and declare (mentally)  ”I can’t fight this anymore!!”

Sigh. It looks so desolate now….like the aftermath of a fire. The mealy bugs reproduced and spread quite literally like wildfire, the very denseness of the foliage proving to be the cause of its demise. All my vehement spraying had no effect at all, as I couldn’t quite get through to the innermost regions of entwined stems and leaves, let alone the fuzzy white armour of the little dastardly creatures.
Curse you, mealy bugs!! *shakes fist at mealy bugs* Curse you all to death!!
May you all die slowly and painfully and be pushed over the brink of extinction!!

4 thoughts on “(Mis)Adventures of a DIY gardener (part-2)

  1. Oh No Munira 😦 My sympathies! And I’m right there with you shaking my fist at and cursing those cursed mealy bugs out of existence!
    Do you grow hibiscus? All our plants are regularly attacked by ants and fungi and no amount of spraying will get rid of them!! Every new plant I buy and plant far far away from those afflicted, succumb after a couple of weeks. Now, I just settle for ugly eaten leaves…although thankfully they do still flower.
    And just another confirmation on the hardiness of orchids…our two bloomed just before Diwali 🙂 You need to get some 🙂

    1. thanks for the sympathy Harsha 😦 hope our collective fist-shaking has some effect!!
      it’s interesting that you ask me about hibiscus. i bought one a few years ago, and remember vividly the joy it brought me every time it flowered for the few short weeks it stayed in my life. sadly, that too fell prey to the accursed mealy bugs, and yes! ants too!! apparently ants and mealy bugs exist in a most evil symbiotic partnership feeding on the honeydew secretions induced by mealy bug-action, and in return, they help fend off predators for the mealy bugs. hrmph.
      i have sworn off bug-attracting plants now. i’m pin-pointing plants that are prone to them and shall henceforth avoid them like the plague. hibiscus and allamanda are on that list!
      so, yes, orchids shall definitely be looked into 🙂 you can be sure i’ll post some pics as soon as i get my hands on some!

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