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House Plants/scale on schefflera


I have a large schefflera, 3-4 feet tall, which has been plagued with brown scale for a few years now. I go over it occasionally to physically remove the scale but it's a fairly leafy plant and I always miss some, plus the young ones I can't see. I have it outside in the summer, bring it in for the winter. I remember reading something online about leaving it outside as the weather changes, that if you harden it that way you can leave it out until it's cold enough to kill the scale but not kill the plant. Are you familiar with this method, and if so, how cold must it be to kill the bugs but not the plant?

Hi Irene,

This is further evidence that the internet is often an unreliable source of information. There is no temperature at which scale insects will die, but a Schefflera will survive. That is wishful thinking.

Picking off individual scales or dabbing them with Q-Tips are both exercises in frustration. Lots of amateur sources on the internet will suggest those techniques, as well.

Juvenile scales are transparent and virtually invisible to the naked eye. If you fail to treat them, they will mature and become adults scales.

Mix a solution of 5 parts water and 1 part alcohol and a squirt of liquid dish soap. Then thoroughly spray all leaf and stem surfaces until they are dripping wet. Complete coverage of all surfaces is essential to success. This is a messy job, so do it outside when temps are above 50 degrees F., but keep the plant out of the direct sunlight. If you are really thorough with your spraying, one spraying should be sufficient to solve the problem.

I have written detailed articles on treating indoor plant pests and on Schefflera care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

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.

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