Houseplant Scale on Schefflera Arboricola

The Schefflera Arboricola is a fairly easy Midwestern houseplant to care for. When I lived in Florida, there was one growing in my front yard, right in front of the chimney. My Midwestern version is a smaller scale!

This time of year my butt has just about been kicked by Old Man Winter. I’m soooo over winter. My houseplants have had it also. Here I am, a horticulturist and should have noticed this earlier. I did see the shiny leaves, but I thought it was just where I had over-sprayed some horticultural oil. Nope, not that lucky. From a distance, these guys are hardly noticeable. However, just get a bit closer and you’ll see them all… Huddling on the midrib.scale insect on houseplant leaf


Next I noticed my sock stick to the floor… The floor was sticky. Remember there are signs and symptoms to all plant problems. The shiny leaves and sticky floor are signs of a honeydew producing pest. Signs are observations that are directly related to the problem. A symptom would be the leaves showing some spotting.

Here’s the little guys close up, along with their honeydew which is just a sweet name for poop. In the wild, opposed to the tame of my living room, ants would be attracted to the sweet honeydew and protect the producer. Ants have been known to herd aphids (another honey-doer!) and protect them in little colonies. I’ve seen it, pretty weird!

scale insect on leaf

We’re not going to have freeloaders on my plants! I promptly dragged ‘Sheffy’ into the shower for a rinse. I would have preferred to use horticultural oil, but I was out. I did have an organic insecticidal soap.

houseplant getting rinced off in bathtub

Spray the plant down with water first, as the longer the soap spray stays liquid, the better job it will do smothering the pests.

Just for the record, using dish soap is not acceptable for a cheap substitute for horticultural soap. Now-a-days, the dish soap is not soap anymore, detergent is the main ingredient and modern soap lacks the fatty acids that are helpful in killing the insect.

Another few good tips to aid the recovery of your plant from scale:

  • Don’t over-water.
  • Don’t fertilize – forcing fresh growth is stressful on the plant and the pests like the new stuff better!
  • Place in sunny location.
  • Try to remove the honeydew, as sooty mold will grow on it.
  • Don’t be afraid to prune when needed – I cut many branches down to just lessen the surface area.
  • About once a week, spray off the plant and reapply the soap or oil.

© The Naturarian


12 thoughts on “Houseplant Scale on Schefflera Arboricola”

      1. I’m optimistic!! Up here, 3/20 is just a date. Uuuuusually, it snows =-(
        HOWEVER, after today, the weather-wizards think it will stay above freezing for the rest of spring!
        That doesn’t mean no snow, but it won’t stick 😉 HAHA!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s always better to be optimistic Holly.
        But I’ll never forget mom telling me that there was three feet of snow on the ground when she came home from the hospital in mid March, after giving birth to me. (a long time ago)

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I rescued mine but no idea how… there was not only one leaf on that plant, I put it outside to bring it to the compost pile und suddenly new leaves appeared… maybe our wet and humid weather is the trick and not only ticks but all other evil critters run away ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel many ‘inside’ pests can be gotten rid of by putting them (the plant) outside. Inside pests are very fragile, generally have no inside enemies and in my house right now, warm & dry. Go and change any of those ‘cushy’ parts of its environment, they’ll croak.
      Your weather surely helped in that situation, however wet weather can give you other issues like fungus and viruses… yea….
      I don’t know a whole lot about ticks, aside from “EEEEAW!!!” =-O I’ll mark that down as a post topic! (TY) It will be interesting to learn about what conditions make for a light or heavy tick season 😉


    1. Spider mites are no fun. I’ve only dealt with them while in college, in the large greenhouse.
      The houseplants I do keep are generally easy care… This is the first time I’ve had an ‘infestation’ & at least I think its only on this plant. Fingers crossed.


Leave a Reply to The Naturarian Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s