Friday, May 15, 2015

Anthurium no. 0580: "Marsha Marsha Marsha"

So let's just get it out of the way: the scale are back. I've seen scale on nine Anthurium seedlings in the last couple weeks.1 So far, the infestation is localized to a particular corner of the basement, but it's not as if the scale stay still, so that means probably no Anthurium-selling this year. Which is perhaps just as well, since I hadn't made any real progress on deciding which seedlings to sell. (If you feel like you really, really want an Anthurium and don't care whether it comes with scale or not, uh, I guess e-mail me or something.)

The cause in this particular case is that I have had a Gasteraloe x beguinii for many years, and it got infested by scale, but I thought maybe I could clean off and restart four offsets and have scale-free plants again. The restart attempt happened in November, and by March, it was clear that I had not, in fact, managed to get the scale off three of the four offsets. So out those went. One offset appeared clean, though, so I let it stay. A week ago, while I was shoving its flat back into place on the shelf, I happened to snag a leaf from the single remaining Gasteraloe on something, and it broke off and fell into the flat of Anthuriums below. I didn't know that's what had happened at the time, but even if I had known, I might not have worried about it, since I hadn't seen scale on that plant for a while. But, there were enough scale on the leaf that fell down that they managed to colonize several Anthuriums in a short period of time. And so now there's a new outbreak to deal with.

The moral of the story: some plants cannot be de-scaled, and attempting to de-scale them anyway only compounds the problem.2

Which brings us to Anthurium 0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha." I liked her well enough when I saw her bloom that I up-potted her to a 6-inch pot, but the only available space for the new pot was the general area that's experiencing the outbreak, and the outbreak's extent wasn't known at the time, so now she, too, has scale. We had best not get too attached to Marsha.

But. The bloom is pretty nice, more or less interchangeable with that of 0120 "Eliza Boutisecksis." Marsha's only the second orange / orange bloom I've seen,3 and appears to be long-lived, a normal size, and decently shaped. So she's got that going for her.

The foliage is okay. Marsha and her clone (or sibling) 0581 "Adam All" did something odd simultaneously in March, where a few of the larger, newer leaves on both plants developed odd lighter-colored squiggles throughout them, almost overnight. Subsequent leaves haven't had that problem, but the discoloration appears to be permanent on the affected leaves. Ordinarily, I'd assume that that sort of color change indicated a nutrient deficiency (or maybe overdose?), but since it's only happening to two closely-related plants out of several hundred, and those two aren't getting anything the other 700 don't, I'm sort of at a loss to explain. It's at least sort of pretty.

0581 "Adam All."

0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha."

0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha." I suspect this is the same leaf as the above photo, photographed six days earlier.

The overall plant is pretty nice-looking, too, as the seedlings go. Still pretty compact, no thrips damage.

But when I went down to the basement to check on the discolored leaves, I still found several tiny little scale insects to rub off the leaves, and I'm sure I didn't get them all. You never get them all. So Marsha is probably, ultimately, doomed. I don't want her to be, I intend to try to get rid of the scale even if it involves throwing out a bunch of other seedlings (and it probably will), but in the end I think I will probably fail, and Marsha will end up in the garbage. I don't feel particularly depressed by this: it's closer to a sort of weary numbness. I'm not sure if that's better or worse than being depressed.


1 0173 "Judith Priest," 0209 "Muffy Stopheles," 0219 "Rhoda Horse," 0223 "Patty Cake," 0235 "Rowan DeBoate," 0267 "Natalie Attired," 0330 "Faye Quinette," 0577 "Pandora Boxx," and 0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha." Judith, Rhoda, and Pandora had bad enough cases that I decided to throw them out rather than try to clean up the plants; it's probable that I should have done that with the other six, but it was hard enough getting rid of the three. Rhoda had never bloomed before, and had a bud, and I still threw her in the trash.
2 Which plants? I have found that there's no point in even trying to salvage Agave, Aloe, Alworthia, Asparagus, Ficus, Furcraea, Gasteraloe, Gasterworthia, Hoya, Manfreda, Neoregelia, and Pereskia, because no matter what you do or how thoroughly you do it, they'll always come back, and in the process of trying, you'll often get yourself stabbed with spines, soaked with neem oil, or otherwise frustrated.
It's also pointless to try to rid Alpinia, Ardisia, Cyrtomium, Nematanthus, Podocarpus, Schefflera, and Zingiber of scale, but the experience is somewhat less horrible.
Occasionally, it actually is possible to eliminate scale from Albuca, Anthurium, Begonia, Coffea, Epipremnum, Hatiora, Haworthia, Hippeastrum, Murraya, Philodendron, Phlebodium, Strelitzia, Syngonium, and Yucca, though in many of those cases the solution is to cut the plant back to the ground and/or remove all foliage, and let it start over again, which is a drastic enough solution that it's not always going to be worth it.
Also it should be kept in mind that this only applies to the particular species of scale I'm dealing with, and in my particular home environment: I won't guarantee anything when it comes to other kinds of scale and other living conditions.
3 Maybe the third, if 0118 "Elijah Sturdabowtit" counts as orange / orange. Elijah is definitely orange / orange when the spathe first opens, but he changes to pink / pink so quickly that it's tough to put him in either category.


Anonymous said...

Can you put the scale infested plants outside now that it is getting warmer? That might stop them from infesting other plants at least and if you're lucky some predator might find the scale.

mr_subjunctive said...


In theory, yes, but there are three problems with that:

1)we're still having nights with lows in the 40s and 50s, so I'd have to move them in and out every day for a while, which could wind up spreading scale to plants in the plant room, since that's the most logical place for them to stay overnight on cold nights.
2) the last time I put scale-infested plants outside, the scale didn't go away and I wound up having to throw out those plants regardless.
3) The back yard doesn't have any good locations to put Anthuriums where they won't get direct sun part of the time, so anything I put out would get sunburned and ugly and wind up getting thrown out regardless.

Anonymous said...

Scale sucks! Lost a Murraya Paniculata, Mitriostigma Axillare, and Chlorophytum Comosum a year ago. Osmanthus and Cryptanthus on same shelf were clean. My mom claims to have found a product somewhere in Cedar Rapids that worked but doesn't stink up the house. So far I've avoided toxic chemicals and just thrown plants out but I hate doing it.