Growing Basil Under Lights, Getting Silver Etching On Leaves
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Chris Collins
Posted on: January 20, 2009

I brought my basil indoors before the frost and set up CFL grow lights in the basement. For about 3 months, all was well -- the basil just took off. I did notice some white flies developing, but just scraped off the larvae on the underside of the leaves and kept going. About a month ago, the leaves started getting a shiny sticky substance on them. I tried to wash this off with some success. But now the tops of the leaves have a spidery looking silver toned "etching" on them, and the younger leaves are starting to wilt and dry up. HELP! I love basil and want to grow it inside this winter.

This sounds like a classic spider mite infestation. Out of doors the natural predators took care of them, but indoors when it gets hot and dry, they cannot outbreed them. Spray with insecticidal soap and pyrethrum at least three times in 8 hour intervals. The soap mix is available from Richters under catalogue number T2212.

You can use Neem oil spray (catalogue #HW210), but you would have to wash it off -- not all that easy with an oil-before using the basil, because neem smells like rotten onions!

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