Friday, February 12, 2010


Have just discovered scale on my Ficus benjamina 'Midnight' as well. Which was in a different room entirely from the Neoregelia, and to the best of my recollection had never been near them. Which means I probably have multiple independent infestations, and should spend the rest of the day examining each plant, one at a time, with a magnifying glass.

Very torn by this, as the Ficus, while more replaceable and less sentimental, has also been around for quite a while (since October 2007) and had only recently begun to start looking good and Ficus-y.

Recent good picture of the Ficus in question.

I should throw it out. Possibly I will throw it out. But give me some time to process and grieve first. (I'm still optimistic about the Neoregelia, however unrealistic this may or may not be.)

Also, this is the perfect day for this to happen, as we've got contractors in the house today to tear apart the bathroom next to my office (good in the long run, insanely bad in the short). So when I'm not thinking about scale, I can be thinking about strangers standing around with the door to the plant room wide open (current outdoor temperature: 23F / -5C). Or covering my ears against the noise of people knocking in walls. Or involuntarily breathing fumes of something. I don't actually know what their plans are and what's going to happen, but clearly it's going to be a bad day.

UPDATE: It's to be noise, with a side of cold.


Liza said...

Oh Mr_S! I'm sorry - about the scale and about the prospect of a bad day. I hope you find a way to turn it around and find humor in having strangers in your home.

Karen715 said...

I'm so sorry about the scale. I feel your pain; yesterday, I discovered scale on my pet Monstera--you know, the one from seed. There were visible scale on only five leaves/petioles, two of which I removed. The leaves were old and a bit beat up, and I've learned that if you can prune away some pests, there are that many fewer left to reproduce. Then I removed the visible scale on the three remaining leaves/petioles by wiping vigorously with rubbing alcohol soaked cotton pads. Then I examined all the other leaves and stems, and finding no visible scale, sprayed them all down with a slightly diluted alcohol solution from a spray bottle. Then I added the systemic imidacloprid to the soil and watered it in.

Then I retired to my bed to curl up in a fetal position and weep bitterly. (No, not really--but I felt like it.)

I'll be repeating the examine--wipe--spray steps frequently in the coming days

Ivynettle said...

I know it's not really the occasion for jokes, but maybe they're blogalong pests? Originating from that palm at Good to Grow, and moving to your plants, and Karen715's, and mine (still wondering how they managed to get to my Abutilon. It's never been closer than 2m to any of the scale-infested plants, and that was months ago.)

mr_subjunctive said...


I have a [joke] theory about the origin. See the comment on this post.

Karen715 said...

Ah, so I'm not the only one whose mind works that way (even if windmills don't.) All the while I was wiping down my plant, I was thinking: "Mr Subjunctive just had to mention scale, didn't he? Just had to talk the damn things up, didn't he? Bah!"

Aerelonian said...

I've lost two ficus benjamina in my live. It's awful. They're such nice, lush plants and it really saddens me to see them go. My solemnest of condolences.

Chris said...

Oh no. I hope it's not as bad as you're expecting.

Water Roots said...

Oh no... Sorry to hear about these troubles Mr. S. I hope the scale problem hasn't affected too many plants.

Diane said...

How sad! Poor little ficus. I hope you can save it somehow.
I've lived through some horrendous inside and outside home remodeling (the downside of living in a hundred-year-old house). It's the worst thing ever and you want to run away screaming, but then it's over and you barely remember that it happened at all. Trust the workmen to be in the house alone and go somewhere else for a while.

Paul said...

Be a shame to have to get rid of the Ficus -- it does look good.

Feel like experimenting? I have NO idea if this will work (hence the experiment) but, I wonder if you were to completely bag the Ficus -- pot and all -- and put a flea color in with it for a few days whether that might kill off the scales? One caveat if you do decide to try this ... make sure to keep it away from Nina. I don't know even if bagged or at the time of unbagging if the fumes from the collar would harm her.

Mitch said...

No, No, No, No. You folks don't have to pitch a plant when it gets scales (aphids, mealy bugs, thrips, spidermites, or whiteflies too)! Unless you're a producer with hundreds of plants it just takes a bit of vigilance and Neem Oil. Or in the case of spidermites, the Silicon based foliage shine (not the aerosol spray but the light blue or white stuff the interiorscapers use). First physically remove the pests either by individually picking each as you would with scale or by rinsing in tepped water in the sink (kitchen sprayers are the best followed by the shower head in the bath). Once your plant is bathed well and physical means of removal have been employed, then spray with a Neem Oil foliar spray. You can buy concentrated Neem Oil and mix it down. The best I’ve found can be purchased from Aribico Organics online. Some of the less expensive Neem Oils I’ve bought from the local hardware store don’t stay in suspension as well and tend to plug up my sprayer. The beauty of Neem is that it actually works, unlike those sad insecticidal soaps we used to use in the 70&80’s and it is not a harsh petro chemical like that stinky, bad ole Isotox or any of the other industrial agents. 2 or 3 good, fine mistings of the post-rinsed (post-picked, in the case of scales) plant and you’ll be back in business and you will have saved your precious air loom houseplant from going to the landfill. Go ahead and spray the Neem on the soil as well, maybe a bit less often, if you think the soil might be the cause of your problems (that is remembering the number 1 reason a plant gets bugs is weekend immunity from not enough light or too dry).

No need to trash your infested plants unless they’re WAY over-run!!!

mr_subjunctive said...

I have kind of a problem with the smell of Neem, unfortunately. I mean, for the Neoregelia I might try it anyway (I think I still have some around, and if not I know where I can buy some), but to me it smells kind of like someone ate an entire jar of rancid peanut butter and then threw it up.

And then ate it again. And then threw that up.

But perhaps that's just me.

I also wasn't blown away by its effectiveness, though that was long enough ago that I might be forgetting something pertinent.

I'm willing to try neem again (especially since you seem to be so insistent), though it'll have to wait for a week, because I won't be able to go to the garden center until Saturday at the earliest.

Mitch said...

My thought is that Neem works best to surpress the growth of populations as opposed to the beating back an already strong one. Physical means of removal must me taken prior to each Neem treatment.
I know what you mean about the smell. It doesn't bother me too much but I have heard that you can add just a few drops of Pine Sol to your sprayer to help neutralize the odor. I have that second hand from someone who read that off the internet, so for what it's worth.

Mitch said...

...sorry about seeming insistent. I'm just not a big fan of sending plants to the big trash pile. I run a shop and do interiorscaping and i see more plants going to the hole than i can possibly rescue. It drives me crazy until i (regularly) come to terms with the fact that i can only do what i can do... lol