Juniperus Conferta needles turn brown (found also mealybugs)

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Hi,

About 3 months ago, I've bought two Juniperus Conferta Blue Pacific plant for the balcony.
About a month ago BOTH began to have some of the needles turn brown, mostly on one side (see the difference in pictures).
I asked someone at the store where I have bought them and they said it is either some fungi (at their recommendation we already sprayed twice with Dithane, but we did not see big changes), or that they did not get enough light on those sides (which is not likely, as they are displayed on an open balcony).

We have another theory: because we put the plants, together with their original pots into larger decorative pots, is it possible that the water did not drain well after we wet them, thus affecting the roots?
Two things to mention here: 1. After the watering, we empty the excess water that is collected in the big pots. 2. When we bought these plants, we also bought two Pigea Glauca Conica spruces, which have the same regime of care and are perfectly healthy.

What do you think would be the cause of this problem? If the roots were affected by the water, can they still be saved? We took the plants out of the decorative pots and they seem to get better and grow new, green and healthy branches.

However, recently we have noticed some MEALYBUGS on the plants and the plant yellowing on the inside, under the top green and healthy branches, towards the center of the plant. We have read online that this could be a side effect of the mealybugs sucking up the plants` juice. We found some treatments online with rubbing alcohol or insecticidal soap, but the problem is we did not find these products here in Romania. We tried with 70% ethanol alcohol on a single branch and we are waiting to se reactions from the plant. We have also killed the mealybugs using a toothpick and an earbud soaked in the above-mentioned alcohol. They seem to be in a small number, but we want to prevent them from spreading, as fast as possible.
Any ideas on how to get rid of them, naturally? We also have a cat and we want to avoid toxic stuff that could harm her.

Thank you so much.
 

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Welcome blueConferta. :) There's a possibility this could be wind damage but also could be bad drainage. These plants generally like to be kept watered but not over watered. Did the pots you had them in have any drainage holes in the bottom to let the excess water out? This is a must for all plants in pots.

Mealy bugs can usually be controlled with some dishwashing liquid diluted in water and sprayed over the plant. Cats like most animals usually instinctively know what may do them harm.
 
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Hi Sheal. Thank you for your reply and for the warm welcome.

We`ve had no extensive windy weather sine we`ve got them but also, we did not shield them. Since they are supposed to be safe throughout the winter weather, we did not think that wind might affect them in any way.

We water them every couple of days and we have taken them out of the decorative pots. Their original pots do have drainage holes, so that is not a problem anymore. We did notice some improvement after taking them out and leaving them to drain.

But now, after seeing the mealybugs on them, we are again concerned about their wellbeing.
I read about using soap to treat against them, but I am afraid to use anything I have in my household, because of various chemicals they might contain. As a dishwashing liquid, we use Fairy...not sure if it is named the same in your country: https://www.stama.co/products/fairy-pomegranate-and-orange-450ml/
Have you ever applied this dishwashing liquid cure yourself? How much liquid in how much water? Do you have any more insight on this?

I`ve attached a picture of how they look under the top branches.


Thank you so much!
 

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It's difficult to pin down what is wrong with this plant and suspect it's more than one thing. You've ruled out wind damage and it can't be frost damage as you haven't had them very long. I'm wondering whether the amount of water they've had has washed nutrients out of the soil? Let them both dry out before you water again and then feed them to see if that helps.

I also use Fairy liquid and have used it on green and black fly successfully, so I don't see why it shouldn't work on mealy bugs. Or you could use Neem oil which is a natural oil and very successful. I usually guess the dilution of Fairy to water. You could try twice the amount you use for washing up in a similar quantity of water, scaling down the amount you would use of course.

When plants in the conifer family start to suffer they often don't recover. If the branches start to die you can't replace them by pruning them out as they don't produce new growth.
 
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