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Question: 42-5201
We have tiny little black bugs flying around our ivy houseplants. How can we get rid of them? Lisa, Seekonk, MA

Mort's Answer:
Fungus gnats are a frequent winter pest. On a day that is over 45, you can take the plant outdoors and spray with malathion. Also spray the soil underneath. Turn the soil over under the plant every two or three weeks to disrupt the nest. Follow directions on the label and repeat in a couple of weeks.

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Question: 368-3410
My English ivy has yellow spots, only on the old growth leaves. There are lots of new growth with our longer days here in Alaska. The plant in general seems very lush. I fertilize about every two to three weeks. Even the starts that I took from this plant have these yellow spots? I do have a another ivy in another room that does not have the spots. I have inspected for pests, none are present. Any ideas? Debbie

Mort's Answer:
You have a genetic anomaly. You could cultivate a new variety. I have seen other yellow margined, white marbled varieties and a gold flecked one.

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Question: 607-3511
Recently I purchased ivy house plants (hanging baskets) at a nearby nursery. I've been watering them according to their instructions which were, water until the bottom of the pot is heavy. Needless to say they are not doing well and the leaves are turning brown and falling off. What do you suggest to make them healthy again? Lisa, Newton, NJ

Mort's Answer:
Many folks have a tendency to overwater, especially in dry weather. Ivy is a relatively easy plant to grow. Too much water will rot the roots. Too much fertilizer will burn the roots. I would take the plant out of the pot and cut off all black or brown roots. Place the plant in a new pot with a soil mix of a third sand and potting soil. You may want to plant the ivy outdoors. Ivy grows almost anywhere. It will grow in sun or shade, on hills, walls and banks. If you plant it outdoors water it once or twice and let mother nature do the rest. House plants will need less and less water as we approach December 22nd. Put your finger in the soil to test the moisture. If the soil sticks to the finger, then you do not need to water the plant. If all the soil falls from the finger, water thoroughly.

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