Bumps / sores / stripes on schefflera and rubber tree?

Asked September 27, 2017, 11:22 AM EDT


I'm having some trouble with my big schefflera, my rubber tree and my dwarf schefflera. I can't tell if it's scale, or some other pest, or an infection.

They are all indoor plants, kept near northern facing windows in indirect sunlight. The dwarf scheff is about 4 years old and 22" from the soil to the top of the plant. The big scheff was given to me 3 years ago but I'm not sure how old it was at the time. It is now 36" from the soil to the top of the plant.

The rubber plant is on a different window about 8 feet away from the others. Also indirect sunlight. It is around a year old and 37" from the soil to the top of the plant.

All plants have been sprayed with neem oil over the last year. Earlier this summer I was battling spider mites on some other plants so the whole collection got weekly sprays for about 6 weeks.

I've written you a bit of a picture book here https://imgur.com/a/Co2UR.

Let me know if you have questions. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you!

New York County New York scale insects schefflera

2 Responses

I'm so sorry that you are having this trouble with your plants! They appear to have scale insects. From what I can make out in your photos, the white scales are slightly bumped up with a darkish dot on the top which suggests scale insect.

Scale insects prefer shade so they are most likely to pop up on the part of your plant that is away from its light source. They multiply quickly. When removed, they leave a little mark where they have been feeding on your plant. (Those are the scars you have noticed.)

There are many different species of scale insect and they are all common on houseplants in our area. Some attack leaves, some just stems. They have needle-like feeding parts that they insert in the plant tissue.

To rid your plants of scale, you will need to remove them physically with your fingernail or some tweezers. Touching them first with rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab may help to loosen them but you should avoid covering the plant itself with alcohol. The linked guide to treating scale insects from Cornell Insect Diagnostic Labs can help with further treating this pest. Do not worry that the scale insects in the photo do not look like yours - there are many types!

Thank you so much! This was extremely helpful. We took a day and removed the scale from all three of the plants and then wiped everything down with dishsoap solution.

I expect I'll have to do a few more rounds until they're full treated.

I've been trying to figure out what was going on for quite a while actually, so I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.