Elephant ear new leaves are brown and shriveled

Asked April 18, 2019, 8:18 PM EDT

My elephant ear had a bad case of spider mites and due to a lack of access to miticide I used a very diluted mixture of dish soap and water to get rid of them. I had to apply twice but the mites are gone. That was over the winter when the house was dry. Now most of the new leaves that are sprouting are brown and dead. I did put some fertilizer slow release sticks in the pot about a month ago. But strangely my plant also has a blossom on it. Is my plant ok? Is it just using all it's energy for the bloom or could something else be the matter? Thanks!

3 Responses

Well, the fertilizer and timing are what is causing the bloom - the spathes don't appear every year so you are lucky to have them. You may have overwatered your elephant ears in your concern for them, they are likely fine but I'd suggest cutting back the dead leaves and repotting.

Thank you Vicki. I see today that some of my leave do actually have spider mites again...any recommendations for getting rid of them for good? My plant is much too large to spray the entire thing down in the shower or to carry outside. I can use any plant safe chemicals (no pets or kids). Thanks!

· You have several options for treating spider mites. For starters, remove the infected leaves which have no chance of surviving.

· Wash and wipe the remaining leaves - Ideally you want to hose down the leaves by using plenty of pressure to dislodge both the mites and their eggs - making sure to hit the underside of the leaves where the mites live. You said your plant was large and this was not an option, So I’d recommend repeatedly washing the leaves with rubbing alcohol = isopropyl alcohol - this delivers good results in dealing with mites, is harmless to humans in terms of contact and inhalation (poisonous if ingested). Or you can use an insecticidal soap and reapply the soap treatment six days later.

· You can also use natural miticides such as horticultural oils to deal with spider mites. These include the neem oil and cinnamite (cinnamon oil). Cinnamite is effective at destroying adult mites, but it won’t destroy the eggs. On the other hand, neem oil which also serves as an insect repellant can eliminate both the eggs and adult spider mites. Rosemary oil will also kill the mites, but it will keep the predatory insects alive and well. These two make a great combo in battling spider mites.

· You can make an herbal insecticidal tea out of two tablespoons of Italian Seasoning, a tablespoon of cinnamon, two tablespoons of crushed garlic, and a tablespoon of ground cloves, in a quart of boiling water. Spray the tea on the underside of the leaves, and repeat every three days for two weeks. This should destroy all spider mites.

· Killing spider mites with chemical pesticides is quick and effective but if you don’t get them all, spider mites adapt incredibly quickly. Due to this, if you keep using a single product over and over again, the mites will start to develop resistance, and your efforts will all become worthless.

· One of the most aggressive ways to kill spider mites is the use of liquid sulphur. Liquid Sulphur shows efficiency at killing spider mites. However, it also appears extremely dangerous for humans. If you plan on liquid sulphur, wear a mask, so that you won’t inhale it. Use this once to avoid toxic build up.

· You can use a spray containing pyrethrum, such as Doktor Doom Spider mite knockout spray to kill the live mites and retreat repeatedly – again try not to contact the spray – wear a mask.

· Another option is floramite which destroys both the eggs and mites but again contains high toxins so wear a mask if using, try to avoid contact and do not use repeatedly.