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Root Awakening: Periwinkle may lack nutrients

Periwinkle may lack nutrients

What is this plant and its expected lifespan? I fed it with AB synthetic nutrients at a low EC (electrical conductivity) level of 0.8. It was growing well, but lately, the leaves have been turning yellow and more ants are appearing on the plant’s surface. What can I do to improve the plant’s health?

Adrian Ling

Your periwinkle plant (Catharanthus roseus hybrid) may have a nutrient deficiency. The older, yellowing leaves may indicate a lack of mobile nutrients such as nitrogen and magnesium. A closer examination of the plant, as well as a better understanding of the growing conditions, will allow for a better diagnosis of the problem. You may want to increase the dosage and application of the fertiliser.

Prune your plant periodically to promote branching and encourage a more attractive, compact growth habit. Tip cuttings can be rooted to obtain new plants.

Finally, the appearance of ants may indicate the presence of sap-sucking insects like aphids and mealy bugs. Check the exposed parts of your plant for these pests. Ants also like to nest in growing media. A soil-less mix of peat moss, coco peat, vermiculite and perlite is particularly attractive to these critters. You may want to soak the pot in water to drive the ants out and destroy nests.

Soil mealy bugs that infest plant roots can inhibit nutrient uptake. You can check by removing the plant from the pot and see if the roots have white, cotton-like patches. These mealy bugs are difficult to control and must be eradicated by drenching the soil with chemical pesticide.

Red-leafed plant is mainly ornamental

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