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.
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!
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.
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