The Q&A Archives: Scale on Euonymous Ground Cover

Question: We have a large area of euonymous ground cover in the front of our house on a slight slope. It has been there for over 25 years and has a large root system. The last several years, it has been infested with euonymous scale (I've been told). It looks like tiny white specks on the leaves and stems. I've sprayed it with Volck oil spray, All-Seasons oil spray, Orthene, etc., and other insecticides over the years to no avail. I've been advised to dig it up and plant something else. Questions: Do you agree it's a goner, or is there something else I can try? Assuming I should get rid of, will I then need to spray to kill off scale in the soil? If so, how soon can I then plant angel leaf variegated ivy? Realizing it will take a few years to get established, how do I keep soil runoff onto my lawn below to a minimum after heavy rains?

Answer: Scale is very difficult to control on euonymus, partly due to the impervious form of the scale and partly due to the densely twiggy, leafy form of the plant. Control requires diligence over time. You would need to remove the worst affected branches and/or plants, rake up all plant debris and mulch, and spray with horticultural oil during the winter (correct spray timing is very important) followed by sprays when the insect is at the crawler stage. (Your local county extension should be able to tell you more precisely when to spray for this stage, it varies by geography and by the weather each year. They may also suggest other controls.) And then repeat as control is not going to be immediate and may in fact never be quite complete. Here is more information about it. You may need to cut and paste the complete url into your browser to make it work correctly.

Ivy can also be affected by pests. (Hedera helix)

To prevent erosion, you might want to work in stages with the replanting, or you can use a series of timbers laid crosswise along the hill to create a terracing effect, and lay natural fiber burlap (pin it down to hold it in place) over the soil and plant through it, then cover with mulch. Planting a steep slope is never easy.

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