Birds, Plants

What is the white stuff on my box plants?

I’ve searched online images and queries and I can’t be sure – the closest I can get is mealybugs but I can’t see them when I look closely.

I’m seriously hoping some of my gardening friends can help out here. I’m taking a guess that our recent baking hot weather that these plants have endured in pots at my front door might be a factor? Can anyone tell me what I should do here – I’m hoping my plants aren’t doomed.

Why is a bird sitting outside in a sunny spot with its mouth wide open and its wings outstretched? That’s a question some gardenwatching people might be wondering just now. I’ve been seeing this in my garden too.

Like us, birds struggle in the heat too. Not having sweat glands, a bird’s way to stop its body temperature from going too high is through the membranes lining the mouth and tongue – hence the open mouths.

Even young chicks in a nest have worked this one out. Back in 2010 our nestbox got the very early morning sun (until 10am) and as you can see above they too had open mouths and this wasn’t a ploy to get food from feeding parents. Our chicks did survive as our warm spell didn’t last too long. However, if a nestbox is placed in an area that gets a lot of sun the chicks would very likely die during hot spells.

Is my Wisteria going to flower? Well, that’s a question I asked myself for years before the first buds opened. It was a momentous day for my garden! If you are looking for flowers on your plant then the image from mine this morning shows a few different stages might help.

Usually Wisteria leaves follow the flowers so if you have leaves out already then most likely you won’t see a flower this time. My tip for now (even if you don’t have flowers) is to keep your plant watered during dry spells – I do believe this makes a difference in flowers. A high potash feed is supposed to help too.

Our glorious spell of warm weather may be ending soon, truth be told, I’m not too disappointed as I’ve be trying to claim back an area of my garden that the weeds thought was theirs when my back was turned doing other things. It’s been hard going in the heat!

Oh yes… and someone else has made an appearance at my feeders when my back was turned…

My daughter spotted the antics of the grey squirrel. My camera was sitting on its tripod, she grabbed it quickly took the shots above before my husband chased it away to stop it damaging the feeder. Just brilliant… gardenwatching goes on even when I’m not at home 🙂

Hope you, your garden plants, birds and wildlife have been surviving the heat. Guessing blogland will be quiet just now as our gardens and the outdoor beckon. Happy gardening and wildlife watching!

This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in May 2012.

6 thoughts on “What is the white stuff on my box plants?

  1. You have an amazing lot of this white balls on your box! It is hard to see what it is – if you could make a close up photo…
    Psylla buxi is a pest that attack box hedges in Spring, try to google it and see if it is the same you have.

  2. I can't tell what that is on your boxwoods. It sure looks icky. Maybe you can hose them off or use some insecticidal soap. We have gray squirrels in our garden too. The rotten things are destructive. I have been out in the heat all day. I am a whipped pup. Have a great week.

  3. Hope you find out what's attacking your box. Might be the unusual weather that's favoured the infestation.

    You're right about the heat and nestboxes. The blue tits in my nestbox fledged a little too early because of the excessive heat. They're okay now though.

  4. Hi Shirl, the white pest is probably a scale insect and it will be sucking sap from the bark so you need to be a bit proactive about getting rid of them. I suggest spraying with a mineral oil which suffocates them. Great shots of the blackbirds and moulting squirrels. Christina

  5. Hello everyone, thanks for your comments. Shortly after posting this I took the action of a soapy spray using a little washing up liquid with a lot of water in a hand plant misting spray.

    Vesna, there were a lot you’re right there. It was covered. Can’t be sure it was Psylla buxi but thanks for the suggestion. I just couldn’t get clear close-up images 🙂

    Lisa, prior to getting your suggestion a soapy spray was what I used. Can’t see the white now but should probably repeat the soapy spray soon. Hope it’s cooler with you now 🙂

    Crystal, you could be right on the weather. My plants were getting baked! Delighted to hear your toasty young birds survived 🙂

    Christina, yes proactive I was. I will remember your suggestion of an oil spray for another time. Thanks, I always enjoy the challenge of photographing the birds and any squirrels that visit 🙂

  6. Hi Shirl, I seem to have missed a whole stack of your posts 🙁 Sorry to read of the problem with your Box, I'm hoping by now you may have resolved the issue.

    I too missed a visit to the feeders by a Grey Squirrel but my husband was entertained by it for a while. I have never seen one in the garden at all.

    Love the photo of the Blackbird sunbathing. I had a row of them doing that once, they looked so funny, like people lined up in deckchairs on the beach 🙂 Needless to say that wasn't this year, we have had rain, rain, and more rain for most of this year 🙁

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