Plant Diseases/Dying Ivy


Dying Ivy
Dying Ivy  
Hi there.  I have a large ivy plant that grew outdoors (Eastern Canada) all summer.  I transplanted it into a planter and moved it to my office for the winter months as it was such a beautiful plant.  However, I've started to notice that the stems are starting to get coated with something unknown and the leaves are starting to die off as a result.  I've attached a picture.  Have you seen this before? Thanks!

Dear Greg, Yes, I absolutely know what this is, and I have seen it before.  You have scale, which is an unmoving insect which attaches itself to the stems and sucks out the juices.  The adult insect is alive under those black shell like bumps.  To get rid of this, get a horticultural oil (not cooking oil), and spray the plant thoroughly with it, especially up under the leaves and all over the stems.  You will need to spray it about once a week for about 3 to 4 weeks.  Be sure to spray it outside and spray to the point where the plant is dripping.  Then let it dry outside (try to pick a warm sunny day, or if the weather is too cold, then find a place where you can safely spray).  You will know that the scale is dead when a stream of water will wash off the bumps.  Look for SunSpray, which is a good product, or try a local garden center and ask for horticultural oil.  Conventional insecticides don't work on this because the hard shell protects the bugs from most chemicals.  The oil will smother them and kill them.  Let me know if you have trouble finding the oil, and I can investigate.  It will take a while to fix this problem, but it is well worth the effort.  It is always a mystery how these bugs creep up inside buildings, but it happens a lot.  I hope this information helps, but be sure to write back if you have more questions.  Good luck, Melissa

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Melissa Johnston


Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.


35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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