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House Plants/disease on small indoor palm


I have had this plant for almost 3 years. Over this past winter the leaves are partly covered this a shinny, mildly sticky liquid. The plant, which has always been healthy looking  now looks sick. I don't see any insect on the plant,Any suggestions.

Hi Paul,

Palm is a generic term that is used to refer to many different plant species, some of which are not Palms at all. Without knowing just what plant species you have or a more specific description of the stickiness you mentioned, I can only make an educated guess as to what is happening. Good photos are always beneficial.

It is likely, that your plant has an infestation of scale insects. These insects don't look like insects as we think of them. They are slightly raised bumps about the size of a small match head. When young they are translucent and hard to spot. When mature, they develop a hard, brown shell and stop moving. They suck on the plant tissue and secrete the sticky stuff called honeydew.

Close relatives of scale insects are mealybugs. They look like tiny flecks of white cotton and are more noticeable than the scale. Both are treated in the same manner.

Mix a solution of 5 parts water, 1 part isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and a squirt of liquid dish soap. Spray this solution over the entire plant covering all leaf and stem surfaces until they are dripping wet. This is a messy job, but thoroughness of coverage is critical to eradicating the critters.

One other note: plants under stress for other reasons (over potting, and improper light or watering) are much more susceptible to pest infestations. Whenever there are pest problems, there are also usually other care issues. It is quite possible to eradicate the pests, but the plant continues to decline due to some other underlying care problem.

I have written detailed articles on indoor plant pests and on Palm 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.

BA, Amherst College

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