Control of Fungus Gnats in Plant Doctor

September 18th, 2021



These tiny flying things can swarm around your indoor plants but other than annoyance, are they killing your plants?

Those tiny little flies that hang around your fruit bowl or indoor plants aren’t always that same thing. 
Sometimes they’re confused with fruit flies, or even ordinary house flies, but none of those two are correct. Inevitably they’re up to no good but how to tell them apart?

  • There are fungus gnats and fermentation flies.
    • they are attracted to different things.
  • Fermentation or vinegar flies tend to hang around the fruit bowl, especially if you've got overripe fruit because vinegar flies are attracted to sugars.
  • Fungus gnats are smaller, flitting around erratically: the adults of which are attracted to moisture.
    • the adults are doing much if anything to your plants other than laying lots of eggs, although there is evidence that they can transmit plant diseases.
    • The larvae can be the problem because the feed on the roots of your plants.

Fungus gnats -magnified heaps.
  • Remember: Vinegar or fermentation flies are attracted to sugary treats, such as over-ripe fruits, whereas fungus gnats are attracted to moisture such as overly wet potting medium.
  • Greenhouses can also have an outbreak of fungus gnats.
Where do they come from?
Came with the plants you bought or from potting mix.
How to stop them?
  • Keep your soil medium a bit on the dry side.
  • Drench the potting mix with neem oil which will control the juvenile stages.
  • Make a sticky trap using vaseline to trap the adults.
  • Use a type of mulch the prevents the adult fungus gnats burrowing into the soil to lay the eggs.
  • Worst case, repot with fresh potting mix.
  • Greenhouse control can be with predatory insects.
Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from

If you have any feedback email or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Plants for Shady Verandahs in Design Elements

June 11th, 2021


Plants for a Shady Balcony, Porch or Verandah

This series is about what you can grow in a shady area around your house or garden.

Balconies or verandah’s look better with plants, but what if they’ve got shade for most or a good part of the day?

This situation is a bit of a challenge , Steve says he gets customers into his nursery that say they have shade in this situation but get some afternoon sun.
Golden can palm is a perfect example for such a situation, plus they provide a fantastic screen.
This palm then provides a microclimate for other containers underneath.



You don’t have to be limited by shade on your verandah or balcony, because there are quite a lot of choices.

Think about a particular look that you like such as a tropical big leafed look, then add a bamboo palm and the fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata).  
Pots or containers that are elevated are a good idea to take advantage of more indirect light.
My favourite right now are hoyas of all types, in fact I’ve started a collection of about 8 so far, with 6 in hanging pots. (pictured right.). The hanging baskets and pole assembly were from Aldi of all places.
Let’s find out what will grow there?
I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

Real World Gardener Bring Plants Back to Life in Plant Doctor

June 11th, 2020


Can you bring a plant back to life? 

We all love our garden, but sometimes a hiccup in garden maintenance brings distastrous results.

Take this next scenario:

You've come home from a couple of week's holiday and found that your treasured Spathyphyllum sp. or peace lily seems to have melted over the sides of the pot. It was a hot summer and the house-sitter didn't think to water it. 

  • What can you do to revive your dying plant? 

Most people immediately assume that they should water it, but an extra dose of water can actually harm a plant that doesn’t need it. 

  • However, in this case, a good dunk in a bucket of water will remove most of the plant. There will be some dead leaves of course.

Out in the garden, there's a similar scenario, with small shrubs looking dried with burnt and scorched leaves.

They're not necessarily dead yet, so how can you tell?

The first thing to do is scratch the bark with your fingernail to see if there's some green underneath the outer layer.

If yes, then happy days, because with a bit of TLC, this plant will be brought back from the brink.

Also test if the limb or branchlet is still supple or snaps when you bend it.

If the stems are brittle, and brown inside when you cut it with a pair of secateurs, then the plant is dead and can’t be saved.

  • Perhaps your buxus hedge is only half dead. Trim back the dead stems and give it a good water, adding a seaweed drink to the watering can. That can revive the plants no end.

    Dead branchlets on my buxus hedge

One last chance.

When the plant above ground is all dried up and dead looking, there is a chance that new growth will spring from the roots, depending on what it is of course. Australian natives are good at springing back to life if you cut them to about 5 cm above the ground.


Diagnose the Problem

You need to weigh up whether or not your giving it too much water, (one of the most common mistakes) or not enough water.

  • Has your peace lily got brown leaves that are dry around the edges or curled up? It's a sign of insufficient watering, so go water it!

Root rot symptoms.

This is when the plants' leaves look wilted, yet the soil is moist around the roots. In fact probably too moist if it's been sitting in a pot of water.

More than likely, your plant has root rot and the only way to save it,(slight chance), is if your spray it with Yates Anti-Rot which contains phosacid. This will only work if you've caught it in time and the leaves are able to take up the phosacid and translocate it to the roots.

Another option is to replant it into drier soil, which is easier if it's in a pot in the first place.


Don't Fertilise Yet

Fertilising now will stress the plant further and possible cause root and leaf burn. Wait it out a couple of weeks to let the plant recover, then add a gentle fertiliser at half strength.

Burnt Leaves

Bromeliad needed more shade.

Australia's hot summers can burn leaves of plants, particularly if the ground is very dry.

If it's in the ground and the leaves keep getting burnt every year, dig it up and move it to a shadier spot in the garden.

If it's in a pot, that's an easy fix to move to a better spot.

Frost damage on plants looks similar to leaf burn from too much sun.

If you're expecting more frost because it's only the start of winter, invest in a some horticultural fleece, and throw it over the plant on frosty nights. Leave the burnt leaves for now, because they will protect the lower leaves that haven't been burnt.


I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from 

Real World Gardener Hoyas in Plant of the Week

May 5th, 2020


Scientific name:Hoya species. 

Common name:Wax flower

Family: Apocynaceae


There are some plants that quietly go about their business without too much fuss making them a little unnoticed in your garden.

I have these two hoyas in the garden, which flower without fail, fuss or drama. 
Then they flower, and you wonder at how marvelous the flower is and most likely think about how little you did anything for that plant to make it flower so well. 
  • So why is it that they're not stars in the garden?
Hoya carnosa

 Let’s find out more. 

I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of Hort Journal, and President of the Interior Plantscape Association. 
You could best describe hoyas as evergreen perennial twining creepers or vines. 

1-DSC_0261-001.JPGThey mostly possess adventitious roots, which simply means roots that grow aerially from their twining stems.
  • They have simple entire fleshy leaves in opposite pairs.
  • The leaf shape varies considerably, with one species having heart shaped leaves: Hoya kerrii.
  • being in the Apocynaceae family, their stems often exude a sticky substance.
In their natural habitat, they often grow epiphytically on trees; some grow terrestrially, or occasionally in rocky areas.
  • Most hoya don’t mind being a little rootbound, as they are used to growing epiphytically, so I don’t often repot my hoya.
Hoyas are marvellous plants, and believe it or not, there are hoya societies with avid collectors 
around Australia. 

Bring them indoors or grow them outside, either under cover, under the shade of a tree, or if you’re in cold climate, in a green house.

Hoya pubicalyx

Real World Gardener Parlour Palms in Plant of the Week

March 3rd, 2020


Chamaedorea elegans: Parlour palm

Do you love or hate palm trees? 
The gardening community is divided into two groups, those that love the palm trees and those that hate them. 
Probably because people persist in growing the environment weed, the cocos palm, which although grows really fast, is particularly ugly.

Chamaedorea elegans: Parlour palm

There are many more well behaved palms and more lovely palms out there. 
So let’s find out. 
I'm talking with the plant panel were Jeremy Critchley of and Karen Smith, editor of 

Chamaedorea elegans is in the class of smaller palm trees, that is also one of the most palms sold around the world.

Parlour palm makes a fabulous indoor specimen because of its leaf fronds that emanate as a cluster from the base. It's also known to purify the air indoors (NASA list of top 50 plants) as well as tolerate low light levels.
You can keep the parlour palm indoors for many years, but planted out in the garden under other leafy palms or larger leaved shrubs, it grows as a bushy alternative to the single trunks of most other palms. 
Plus, you don’t have dropping palm fronds like you do with cocos palms and a few others.

Real World Gardener Indoor Plant Pests in Design Elements

September 26th, 2019


Indoor Plant Pests Under Control

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about what plants you can grow indoors wherever you live in Australia.




Quite a few in fact can cope with all weather conditions for the far north of Australia to Tasmania.

Despite all your loving attention though, some plants can be susceptible to pest attack, or just like plain unhealthy, making you think you did something wrong.

Not necessarily true, so let’s find out about looking after indoor plants

That was Julia Levitt Director of

PLAY: Indoor plants-pests_2nd August 2017

Even the best plant owner will come across pests.

The trick is to keep an eye on your plants and act quickly as soon as you see something wrong with your indoor plant.

Why are we having plants indoors again?

Apart from plants reducing carbon dioxide levels in your home, did you know that people with plants in their homes have less stress, and plants have been known to contribute to lower blood pressure?

If you have any questions about indoor plant pests why not email us


Real World Gardener Indoor Plants for Warm Climates in Design Elements

August 28th, 2019


Indoor Plants for Warm Climates

The most important elements required for healthy houseplants include light, water, temperature and humidity.

If any or all of these factors aren’t properly met, your houseplants will inevitably suffer.

You might be sweltering under the fans in the heat of a subtropical summer but what about your indoor plants?



Can they cope or is this the climate where they thrive the best?

So let’s find out more in this new series on indoor plants.

I'm talking with Julia Levitt, Landscape Designer and Director of

The good news is that tropical plants usually enjoy warmer conditions and don’t perform well once indoor temperatures fall below 13-16 C.

Plus they like a lot of humidity, that means at least 50%, but better at 70% or more.

Most of the tropical, ornamental indoor plants with attractive foliage & colourful leaf patterns are suitable for hot & humid climates.

For example Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane, Dracaena, house ferns of many kinds, Tricolor plant, snake plant, Philodendron, Money plant, Syngonium etc

Real World Gardener Alocasia in Plant of The Week

August 28th, 2019


Alocasia species

For an instant tropical feel, plants with large leaves are one of the main choices.

Some of these belong in the Alocasia family originating from a bulb or rhizome. 


Alocasia amazonica

But will they grow in your district.

Let’s find out

That was Jeremy Critchley

PLAY: Alocasia 21st August 2019

Jeremy mentioned these varieties of Alocasi to watch out for.

Alocasia macrorrhiza, Alocasia zebrina and Alocasia amazonica, are all outstanding cultivars.

The latter has very dark green leaves with prominent veins, edged in white, while the back of the leaf is purple.

Slow growing but hates the cold.

Jeremy thinks that it looks a bit like an African mask.

Don’t be like me and forgot they die down in winter.

Luckily I didn’t throw it out.

Real World Gardener Cool Pilea pep is Plant of the Week

June 27th, 2019


Pilea peperomioides: Pilea pep

This plant has a really interesting backstory.

  • It’s common name is Chinese Money plant or Friendship plant, but I think there’s a few plants around with those same common names.

So as I always say, you need to know the scientific name to avoid confusion if that’s the case.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley,

Pilea peperomioides or Pilea pip,as it’s called in Jeremy’s nursery, was discovered and grown years before scientists ever got a hold of it.

It never occurred to anyone, that it was a new species until a member of the public want to know it’s real name.

How good is that?Pilea%2Bpep.jpeg

Easily grown indoors or on a warm verandah because it doesn’t like to be below 15 degrees C much

  • Hot Tip: healthy Pilea peperomioides plants produce baby plants both from their roots and their stems.
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight. 
  • Likes to be kept moist but not overly wet.
  • Although it can be kept outside in warmer regions, Pilea peperomioides is only suitable as a houseplant in most locations. It doesn’t appreciate temperatures below 10 °C and should be protected from sudden temperature swings.
  • Pilea peperomioides will produce little plantlets growing in the soil next to the mother plant a. Once these have grown to a size of around 5-7 cm they are large enough to separate.
  • Cut away the plantlet with a sharp, clean knife. They should already have their own root system and can simply be potted up.


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