The Q&A Archives: Schefflera

Question: I have a four year old Schefflera that I placed outdoors in my container garden on my balcony, it has been doing very well up until this year. It seems to have been attacked by what looks like inch worms munching away on the leaves, little dark gray gnat looking flies burrowing in the soil and hundreds of tiny black seed looking bugs that seem to be sucking the life out of my plant. It also seems to have brownish indented spots on the underside of some of the leaves. Is there something I can do to get rid of these problems? I would prefer home remedies over harsh chemicals if at all possible especially since my 4 year old and my 2 year old are active in our container garden as well Thank you so very much for you assistance, I truly appreciate it.

Answer: I'd start by hosing the plant off completely, especially the undersides of the leaves, to see if you can wash away the critters. Allow it to dry then assess the situation. If there are still insects present, the green worms can be controlled with a spray of bt (bacillus thuringensis) and the little black bugs may respond to insecticidal soap. (Both are botanically derived and shouldn't cause any harm to humans or to pets.) As for the fungus gnats - they live and breed in moist potting soil. You can cover the exposed soil with gravel or sand to exclude them. Be sure to read and follow the label directions - you may need to apply the bt or insecticidal soap, wait 15 minutes and then rinse it off so the foliage isn't affected. Best wishes with your schefflera.

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