Metro-East Living

That buggy jade plant can be saved with a once-weekly spray

Q. I am not sure what is going on with my jade plant since I brought it inside this fall. Leaves got tiny black dots usually on the undersides of the plant. They begin to lighten in color and finally shrivel. I noticed a tiny web or two on some of the leaves and wipe them away every other day. I don’t want to lose the plant as it was one of my mother’s.

A. The jade plant (Crassula species) has problems with warm temperatures in the fall when the air becomes dry and infested with whitefly, two-spotted mites and mealy bugs. You were quite correct to try to clean off the webbing. A whitefly and mealy bug control spray can be applied directly on the upper and lower parts of the succulent leaves. This control manufactured by Ortho is found in a small spray pump bottle and should not be used more than once every seven days.

Q. We have three pecan trees in my yard that I brought back from the Arkansas River valley about 20 years ago. They were producing nuts by August, then they started to drop nuts and by October all but a few remain. It does this during dry years and wet years. Any idea?

R. H. of Collinsville

A. Pecan trees can be a little temperamental because the male flowers produce catkins (floral buds) that hang from 1-year old branches. While the female pistillate produce flowers that are male, female flowers are not produced at the same time. An overly heavy crop can reduce nut set. Growers must thin very heavy crops to prevent this from happening.

A good reference for pecan production is the Fruit and Nut Production by Brenda Olcott-Reid, PhD and William Reid, PhD. Stipes Publishing, Champaign, Illinois, ISBN 978-1-58874-575-0

Q. When is the best time to order vegetable seeds?

D.B. of Collinsville

A. Usually, the best time to order is in January because you get to pick the best seeds before other gardeners find out what are the best choices for disease resistant varieties.

Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to