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enter image description hereenter image description hereMr. Fuzzy

The plant is healthy otherwise, I see a few ants crawling around on it. Is this a sickness? How do I remove this and get shiny leaves like I see others have?

  • I don't recognise the plant, or at least, can't see enough of it - what is it? This should help diagnosis - at the moment, from what I'm seeing, it could be mealybug, scale infestation or mildew. The fact you've got ants on it too would indicate scale or aphids - knowing where you are would help too. – Bamboo Jul 9 '15 at 15:51
  • thank you, I am in south eastern pa, zone 6b, it is outside, I bought this abandoned plant home from the office where it had been abused, it had these things on it. It looks like some kind of a dwarf palm? – ychirea1 Jul 9 '15 at 16:29
  • Any chance of another photo taken from further away, so we can see the whole plant, whether its got a stem, etc? And do you have it indoors currently? I'm just wondering about ants, if its indoors... – Bamboo Jul 9 '15 at 16:46
  • Looks like powdery mildew to me...how about a picture showing the undersides of those leaves? Closer look at the soil, too. Shoot, can't think of the name of these plants but isn't this one of those that we are supposed to water by filling the center? Don't use city water...well water or distilled water is better. Tap water has lots of salts that accumulate on top of the soil and sides of clay pots. This could be salts...accumulating on the leaves as you water this plant... – stormy Jul 9 '15 at 19:09
  • I added an image of the underside of the leaf. I use rainwater on my plants outside, so I don't know if it is that. – ychirea1 Jul 9 '15 at 22:04
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The plant is a ponytail palm or Beaucarnea recurvata a member of the Asparagus family and native to Mexico. The identification is the woody trunk and the long curved leaves. The pest is mealy bug. It also appears to have some hard water deposits or pesticide residue as some of the white stuff is flat on the leaf and some is fuzzy. See here for a similar problem on a different plant.

You can try to control the mealy bug but it's hard because they hide deep in the axils of the leaves

  • Soap and water applied at a rate of teaspoon/quart (~5ml/liter) three times over six day periods will control spider mite.
  • With mealybug I just got rid of the plants as these pests were very hard to bring under control and spread easily.

Other maintenance measure if you decide to keep it

  • Fertilize after a few years with 20-20-20 at half the recommended strength.
  • Top up the soil yearly with a soil less mix
  • Do not overwater, water is stored in the trunk

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