Monday, December 08, 2008
My Schefflera has TB...
by Michael Dymmoch
...Or scale insects, the houseplant equivalent. (Yeah, I know TB is a bacterium and scale are insects. And I know the difference between the two types of “bugs.” But both “diseases” are contagious, resistant, and difficult to treat.) Problem is, I don’t want to consider the treatment recommended by the Chicago Botanic Garden—throw the Schefflera out and get a new one. I’ve belonged to this plant for 34 years. It was 6’’ tall when I first brought it home. Now it’s 5’ 6”.
Unfortunately, it’s too big for the treatment that worked on my ficus—a shower with Scrubbing Bubbles ® (the kind in the can, not the shower-cleaner.*) followed by a good soaking with insecticidal soap. The Schefflera’s pot is too heavy for me to lift. So, periodically, I treat it in place—scrub the scale off with cotton soaked in alcohol, then hit the plant with the insect-killing soap. If I were consistent, I’d have vanquished the enemy years ago. Problem is, I forget the scale for months at a time—until the infestation has reestablished itself from the bug or two I missed, and the scales are too numerous to miss. I’m constantly starting the war over.
It’s a little like trying to overcome al Queda. Or procrastination. Or bad writing habits. You have to keep after them. You have to be determined, systematic, and relentless. Any time your efforts flag, the pest comes back in force. That’s fair. It’s a matter of survival for your enemy. And of whether or not you’re able to live with the disease.
*WARNING: This treatment will kill many plants. Try it at your own risk