The Q&A Archives: Scale On Houseplants

Question: This year has been a tough one on my houseplants! At first a select few showed signs of spider mites. It took me several treatments before I conquered the beasts--which eventually infected all 30 of my plants! UUGGHH!!! Now, it seems a few are showing signs of scale! What can be done to take care of this problem. The insecticidal soap I used before says nothing about scale. Also, is there a way to prevent pest attacks or is this something that just happens every so often?

Answer: Scale insects have hard outer shells so Insecticidal Soaps aren't very effective. If you have patience, you can pry or peel the insects off the stems of your plants, using a moistened cotton swab. If the plant is badly infested, it might be best to toss the plant and replace it. Scale insects are extremely difficult to eradicate! Once you have inspected all of your houseplants and know that they are healthy and bug-free, give them the light conditions and water they require, and make sure each plant has adequate air circulation around it. If leaves are not touching other plants, the chance of spreading insects or disease is lessened. Disease happens when plants are under stress, and disease can spread quickly throughout your collection. Insects usually hitchhike indoors on plants or people. When you bring home a new plant for your collection, isolate it for a few weeks to make sure it doesn't have insects or diseases. Once you're sure it's healthy, you can place it closer to your established plants.

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