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My schefflera plant is 12 years old!! HUGE!  He loves to be cut back and I have done this yearly.  We live in Bettendorf, Iowa, so when cold nights begin in late October, we bring him inside and place him in his favorite sunny place, in front of our south-side-facing patio doors.  Then, when nights begin to stay above cold temps in the spring, out he goes to his favorite place on our front deck, with lots of sun!

So, same procedure this year. He has been indoors for about three weeks now.  I just went to water him, and noticed what looked like little dirt specks, only on the new growths - best way to describe is that the specks on the new growth shoots look like someone threw black dirt at them...AND the teeny weeny new growth umbrella-like shoots are curling inward, like dying....

SO, Alistair (don't ask) has been the BEST plant ever.  Never had any worries or problems and he is quite special to me. A friend sent little Alistair to me when my father passed away...and without me even having a green thumb, Alistair has thrived!  I don't have a CLUE what to do.

So glad I saw your web site.  Can you help please?  THank you!!!!

Amy F.

Hi Amy,

"Little dirt specks" is a bit vague so a photo would be helpful. In the absence of more specific information, my educated guess is that the specks are scale insects or possibly aphids. Try spraying the entire plant with a solution of 5 parts water, 1 part rubbing alcohol and a squirt of liquid soap. If you are very thorough and the specks are scale or aphids, then that should solve the problem.

To be on the safe side, do post a photo here or email it to me at my email address below.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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