Indoor Schefflera plant leaves are sticky

Asked June 28, 2018, 4:02 PM EDT

Hi there, I have 2 indoor schefflera plants that I have had for approximately 13 years. For the last 2 years they have developed a sticky coating on the leaves and now I notice my floors and windows sills are sticky as well. Last summer I repotted the plants, completely removing all soil and washing the root system and they still have that issue. I am stumped. No bugs in the soil. South facing windows. They are about 7 feet tall now. Both plants. I don’t want to lose these plants as they were from my mothers funeral 13 years ago. Help!!

Kandiyohi County Minnesota

1 Response

Hello and thank you for contacting AaE for help.

Whatever is causing the problem, it has a component that is above the soil. The sticky stuff is not produced by the plant leaves and stems but by some external agent.

I suspect the agents are mealy bugs. I tried looking for them in your excellent photos which should have yielded a very big infestation due to the amount of frass (that's the sticky stuff that they excrete) that you have. And, yes, it'll get all over anything else in the vicinity of their congregations.

Here is a link to more information about mealy bugs from Missouri Botanic. Among the suggested control measures is an option to use an insecticidal spray but know that there are systemic insecticides which I've found helpful for very large infestations like yours if you're inclined to use that form of control. That way you don't have to haul your plant outside multiple times to kill newly emerged adults. Also, the insecticide is simply applied inside where it will not affect pollinator bystanders outside.

As with all chemical methods we strongly suggest that you read and follow all instructions that come with the product.

Good-luck!