How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Anna Your Own Question
Anna, Teacher, writer, biologist
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 11463
Experience:  Great research skills, variety of work experiences, teaching experience.
Type Your Question Here...
Anna is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

i have palm trees that have birds of paradise on them. They

This answer was rated:

i have palm trees that have birds of paradise on them. They have a web like substance underneath the leaves and eventually the top of the leaves turned black. The birds of paradise seem to be opening up dead!! I read that I should put a 50/50 mixture of sugar and baking soda at the base and the queen will blow up, solving my prob. Is that correct? Is there anything else that I can do?

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. I'm sorry to hear your plants are having a problem.

The chemical reaction between sugar and baking soda requires a catalyst. It proceeds like this:

2 NaHCO3 -> Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2
C2H5OH + 3 O2 -> 2 CO2 + 3 H2O

The end result is nothing more than carbon dioxide, which is in the atmosphere all the time. Placing dry sugar and baking soda at the base would most likely do nothing at all. However, from what you have described, the black on the leaves is something called sooty mold. The mold is only a sign of an underlying problem. Sooty mold grows on a sticky substance called honeydew, which is excreted by several different kinds of tiny insects, including aphids, mealybugs, scale, and white flies. These can be difficult to see. Mealybugs and scale can produce the white webbing you see. These tiny pests can cause a lot of damage and even kill a plant if left untreated. I'll give you the method I use on my own inside trees to deal with these. Put them in the shower and give them a thorough bath. If the plants are outdoors, spray them with a hose. After that, spray it thoroughly with an insecticidal soap. These soaps are available in garden shops, nurseries, and plant departments. Then, if the plants are in pots, remove the plant from its pot. Remove as much soil as you can without damaging the roots. Some life stages of the pests live in the soil. Put the plant in a different pot with sterilized soil. If the plants are growing in the ground outdoors, soak the area underneath them with the insecticidal soap. Inspect the plants daily after that. If you see more webs or sooty mold, repeat the treatment with the insecticidal soap and also spray the soil surface. It can take several treatments. These little bugs are difficult to get rid of.

If you prefer a more potent insecticide, your garden shop will have one labeled for these aphids, mealy bugs, white flies, and scale. Another option is to use a horticultural oil labeled for use during the growing season (not a dormant oil). Regardless of the method you use, you'll probably need to treat more than once.

If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your plants will be fine.


Please be sure to rate only SMILEY FACES to complete this transaction, or, if you need more help, click on REPLY and let me know what else you need. Thank you.
Anna and 54 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Anna!! I am off to the store right now, fingers crossed.

You're welcome. If too much damage hasn't already occurred, you should be able to save them. I wish you success.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Wait. Save them? I have trimmed back all the dead frongs and birds of paradise, I planned on doing the treatment on Monday. Do you think they may die? How soon should I see results?

I didn't mean to scare you. If untreated, those small bugs can do so much damage that trees can die from them. If there are still a number of healthy-looking fronds, they should be fine. As far as results, once you clean them and treat them, you shouldn't see any more of the black mold or the white webs appearing. if you do, treat again immediately. New growth should appear within a few weeks.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.