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House Plants/Schfflera Arboricola - sticky sap on leaves


I had a schefflera arboricola column which I purchased several yrs ago which was small and is now 5'7" all.  It was kept in an office with full sun and lots of windows. The only care the plant gets is watered.  I notice now that alot of the leaves have a sticky type of clear sap that turns a crusty brown.  What might it be and what can I do about it.  Even the container the plant is in is now sticky.

I love the plant and have to bring it home but am nervous about this sap stuff.

Thank you for your help


Hi Barb,

The stickiness is coming from a scale insect infestation. Scale insects do not look like insects. They develop slightly raised, hard brown shells about the size of a match head. They are sucking insects and they secrete a sticky substance called honeydew which falls on leaves, the pot and other surfaces below.

To treat them, mix a solution of 5 parts water, 1 part rubbing alcohol and a squirt of liquid soap. Then thoroughly spray all leaf and stem surfaces of the entire plant until they are dripping wet. This is a messy process, but complete coverage is essential to get direct contact with the immature scales that are virtually invisible. If you miss a few they will reproduce and the problem will return in several months, so thoroughness of coverage is the key to success.

I have written articles on treating plant pests and on Schefflera care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at

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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