Two weeks ago we published a short article on our blog about the versatile native plant the Lilly Pilly. Today we’d like to continue with a discussion on the problems that you should look out for when growing this beautiful native. Two of the most common are psyllid and wax scale infestations.
Many lilly pilly varieties are subject to psyllid attack. The psyllid is a sap-sucking insect which damages the leaves of the lilly pilly, causing unsightly bumps in the surface of the leaves. The damage caused is a result of the insect laying its eggs on the underside of the leaf which result in unsightly pimples coming up on the top of the foliage. While not directly affecting its health, the infestation causes leaves to shed and will ruin the effect if the plant is used as a feature as in hedges.
What to do?
Like many plants the lilly pilly will be more susceptible to infestation if it is weakened through lack of care. However careful planning may be the key to avoiding infestation problems in the first place. Firstly select, and purchase from the Evergreen Growers website, a lilly pilly variety that is generally free of psyllid problems.
There are three varieties in the lilly pilly family: the Syzygium, the Acmena and the less common Waterhousia. The Acmena are not susceptible to psyllid damage and only a select few of the Syzygiums are susceptible to infestation, mainly the Syzygium Australe varieties
Then read the variety’s information page to ensure that the ideal growing conditions are met. While the wonderful lilly pilly has a reputation for toughness, it may suffer if planted in the wrong conditions such as a swampy area and may therefore be more susceptible to infestation.
Psyllid outbreaks can be treated by a systemic pesticide such as Confidor. However affected foliage will need to be trimmed off to allow for unaffected regrowth.
Should you notice white, ball-like fungus appear on your prized lilly pilly, you may find wax scale the culprit. The female scale insect lays many eggs in the waxy scale which hatch and crawl out onto the leaves and stems to feed. Scale residue is a black sooty coating of the foliage and stems, and while it will slow growth, is not a danger to the plant. Again the problem is more unsightly than terminal.
What to do?
For those looking to control the pest with organic methods, a quick method is to remove the adult scale using rubber gloves. This may help control the problem. Another ‘organic’ method to treat scale is to spray the plant with pest oil which kills the scale but doesn’t remove it or its residue.
These are just two of the problems facing lilly pillys. Remember by buying a variety with resistance against these problems you may prevent costly and time-consuming care later on. Secondly always understand the needs and proper care of the wonderful lilly pilly.