Better Dorms And Gardens

In this special addition of Better Dorms and Gardens, we’ll be addressing plant care! 

Last issue, I introduced you to this beauty, the Calathea Sanderiana, which I lovingly named Aphrodite. She has beautiful leaves, and she moves a lot, closing her leaves when the sun sets. 

I left out some information when introducing her – mainly because I didn’t want to jinx myself. Calatheas as a whole species, are prone to spider mites.

I know it sounds scary, but spider mites aren’t harmful to humans – however, they are lethal to plants. 

I first noticed something was wrong when Aphrodite stopped closing her leaves at night. I thought it was her way of saying she didn’t like her spot on the shelf, so I moved her. It was a couple days after I moved her that I noticed a strange white pattern, stark against the rich purple colour of her under leaves. 

Then my worst fears were realised – spider mites. 

Spider mites feed on the plant, causing discoloration, and eventually killing the plant. They only live for three to four weeks, but they breed and multiply like no one’s business.

My first course of action was to isolate the plant. Spider mites love calatheas, but they don’t discriminate, and they would eat my entire indoor jungle. 

Then I went with a spray to protect the leaves – the ‘We the Wild’ protect spray – this contains Neem Oil, which spider mites hate. After this, I simply wiped them off the leaves, and doused the soil in the spray too. 

It is important to note, regular pesticides won’t work on these guys! They have a tolerance to it. 

Once I was certain the outbreak had been handled, Aphrodite got a haircut, and I pruned the leaves that had been damaged by the infestation. 

Aphrodite will now remain in quarantine for 30 days, to ensure the infestation is gone, and she is safe and healthy.