What's Coming Up 126: Scale, fig, birds, pepper spray, fireplace ashes

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De-scaling a fig... or just about any other plant

Bird-brained helpers deserve applause

Recipe: Pepper spray for plants

Plant chemicals: Healthy plant, healthy people

Just a dash of fireplace ash for the garden

Other uses for stashed ashes

Unusual words: Pale leaf and bug hatch

Mentors brush off aphids, leave great books behind

Celebrating a white birch Christmas

Making more light indoors for healthier plants

When travelers learn to zone, home gets greener

In our garden: Bag a plant, swaddle a gardener

45 mph garden: House finds itself in shade of a houseplant

How to re-coup missed issues, nix extra index




Arrows point to a soft brown scale (left side) and its giveaway -- the shiny, sticky dots of honeydew it drips onto leaves below.

Soft brown scale (Coccus hesperidum) is the scale most often found on houseplants, especially citrus, Ficus, ferns and ivies. This one is living on a bay leaf. Its sister may be imbibing from a nearby orchid if it was able to crawl across adjacent leaves or drop from overhanging foliage. It's a bit more than 1/8 inch log, about average for a full grown member of its species.
Early control is the key to staying ahead of these ubiquitous pests.
Shake hands with the plant regularly, checking leaf blades for shiny, sticky honeydew that's telltale even before the scales are large enough to see easily. Look on leaf undersides, too, for adults. Rub off the adults or kill them with a dab of rubbing alcohol, being careful not to get too much on the plant, as it can burn some leaves. However, you shouldn't quit there, since there are almost certainly crawlers at work if you see an adult. Apply an insecticide, too or wash the plant thoroughly with soapy water and then a forceful rinse.

To keep a houseplant healthy, keeps its leaves clean. Cover the soil surface and spray it thoroughly with a mild soap solution, then shower it off. Clean leaves receive more light - that's more energy -- and the bath washes away pests.

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More light

A full-spectrum bulb in a cast-off shop lamp might be the thread an indoor plant hangs by, in winter's dark days. Above: This might not be much but left on 24 hours a day, it's better than nothing and may be what keeps our excess jades healthy until we find them homes!

Did you come here to this page by doing a Search?
In this issue you will find answers to these Search terms:

acidic soil
alkaline soil
applying ash to gardens
Araucaria araucana
Araucaria bidwillii
Artemisia annua
Asclepias currasavica
Bouncing Bet
Bunya pine
calcium carbonate
cleaning houseplants
Coccus hesperidum
controlling scale
cottony maple scale
cucumber beetles
elm scale
fireplace ashes
Fletcher scale
fungus gnat
grow lights
handling wood ash
hardiness zones
harvesting phytochemicals
horticultural oil
hot pepper solution
hot pepper spray recipe
immature lady beetle
insecticidal soap
lady beetle
lecanium scale
Magnolia scale
medical uses of phytochemicals
midwinter fire traditions
monkey puzzle tree
natural enemies of scale
Neem oil
oyster shell scale
Perilla frutescens
pine needle scale
plant defenses
plant-derived phytochemicals chart
Porophyllum gracile
quote, quotation
sap-sucking insects
Saponaria officinalis
scale crawlers
scale life cycle
soft brown scale
soft brown scale on houseplants
soil pH
sooty mold
spread ashes on the garden
sticky plant
Sweet Annie
systemic insecticide
Thalassa Cruso
Tulip tree
vacation plant care
virus infection
wood ash and nitrogen fertilizer reaction
wood ash uses
Wooly foxglove


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