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Saving a naranjilla

I really need help to save my Naranjilla plant (Solanum quitoense). I bought it last year and for six months it grew well, from its original height of 35cm to a glorious 1.45m. It had beautiful giant leaves, green on top, purple under, that measured 50-60cm long and about the same width. The bottom leaves started to go brown and drop off, leaving my plant looking like a long prickly stalk with big leaves at the top.

One day I noticed it had a thin cobweb all over it, with what looked like tiny spiders all through it. I sprayed with Mavrik but now all the new leaves are curled up and look like closed fists and the flowers that are produced go brown and drop off as well as the leaves. Now my beautiful plant looks sad. Please help, my plant needs you!


FROM your description, your plant has been attacked by mites. These tiny creatures attack plants by sucking the sap from the leaves. They are identifiable by the fine cobwebbing on the plant and they can attack garden plants as well as houseplants.

Mites multiply or breed very quickly, especially indoors. Mites travel on currents of air, and if there is insufficient air circulation indoors or around a plant, then they will multiply much more quickly on a single plant. Mites also love warm dry environments so being indoors during winter is their ideal holiday retreat.

Spraying with Mavrik is fine, but if you wish you can use Yates Mite Killer, which has been specifically designed to control mites. Spray as per the directions on the container, and always spray outdoors. If you can, put your plant outside on a warm sunny day to try and disperse some of the mites on a good breeze. On some plants, you can hose the mites off with a jet of water, but you have to be careful on plants that don't like water on their leaves.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 127, 2003, Page 27

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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