Can this schefflera be saved?
July 16, 2014 1:49 PM   Subscribe

I have a large (4' tall) schefflera in my office that has been infested with aphids for a few years now. At the recommendation of a coworker, I tried half-heartedly to get rid of them one time over the course of a few weeks by spraying the leaves with a mixture of dish soap and water, but this was way too time-intensive given that I do not care about this plant at all, and I'm not sure it helped, anyway. The thing is, I feel guilty letting it slowly die an aphid-ridden death.

Is there something I can purchase to spray on this plant that will kill these things? I have tried googling but everyone seems really interested in all-natural methods and what have you. I do not care about that kind of thing at all. This plant is in a corner by itself and I don't need to eat it or anything; I just want it to not have bugs all over it, while expending the least amount of effort to make that happen. It stresses me out knowing they're over there, clinging to the leaves and leaving behind their gross sticky residue.

Ideas? Help!
posted by something something to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1. Locally source a box of lady bugs from a nature center or other place (the local insect farms sell them up here).

2. Take the plant home for the weekend, put on the porch or in the backyard.

3. Encase the plant in a large bag - mesh something or a bedsheet that will "seal" it and keep the ladybugs in for the weekend.

4. Crack the casement and apply ladybugs, leave "sealed" for a day or so.

5. Open up the encasement and let the ladybugs fly off when they're done.

6. Take the plant back to the office.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

Can you just not give the plant to someone who actually likes plants and won't mind looking after it? That would solve your problem.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Throw it out. Life is too short. (and I'm the manager of a nursery, so believe me I see great beauty and value in all kinds of half-dead things!) Just get rid of it! Go drop some cash at home depot (where Scheffs are dirt cheap for their size) and get a brand new one and keep on half-loving it. Long may your half-love green up your office!
posted by missmary6 at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I would never, ever, ever, EVER recommend this if your plant was outside, because BEES ARE DYING. But, I have some indoor orchids that have been on a slow death march due to a mealybug infestation. I started with dabbing alcohol on the visible bugs, then graduated to spraying all seven plants with neem oil (which, you're right, is really time consuming), and the bugs kept coming back.

Then I ordered some a systemic insecticide from Amazon (this one), and my plants are on the rebound. It's a granular product that you mix into the top few inches of soil. It started working on my orchids within the week. It's been 10 days since I applied it, and I haven't seen any bugs.

I was only comfortable using this stuff because I don't have a lot of (or any?) beneficial insects flying around inside my home. Since your plant is in your office, I think it would be okay.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:21 PM on July 16, 2014

I sprinkle diatomaceous earth on all of my houseplants (top level of soil) to control pests, many of which lay eggs in the dirt. My big problem is fungus gnats at my house, but aphids lay in soil as well.

A nice thing is that the stuff keeps forever and it's not terribly expensive. There are some risks, but I prefer this sort of mechanical solution to chemicals. I minimize my risks by sprinkling it carefully and not just tossing it around my house or anything.
posted by Lardmitten at 2:34 PM on July 16, 2014

Best answer: Insecticidal soap: the best of both worlds - organic AND effective.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:41 PM on July 16, 2014

Best answer: You almost almost did it already, the only thing missing from your soap mix was vegetable oil. Oil kills them immediately. I was having aphid problems on my house plants and my usual dr bronners plus water wasn't working, but when I added a few tbs of oil, whoa those things just shriveled immediately.
It is very satisfying, and they don't come back (unlike frikkin fungus gnats).
It will only take 5 min I promise.
You mix up a spray bottle of the oil soap water solution, drench the whole plant with it, and then refill the bottle with just regular water and go back an hour later and drench it again to get rid of the residue that might burn the leaves. Or just skip the water step and see what happens since sheffs are hardy mofos.
Next day, they are just little dead black poppy seeds and gone foreverrrrrrrr
posted by rmless at 5:48 AM on July 17, 2014

Best answer: Ps you don't have to be careful while spraying, just go for it and let the spray hit the leaves, stems etc. if it pools and runs down the plant, whatever, that is good bc you might be killing some little baby aphids you haven't seen yet. You don't need to try to be gentle with it, if that is what was taking you too much time before.
posted by rmless at 5:51 AM on July 17, 2014

Response by poster: My mom gave me the plant, so there are some sentimental issues, for those suggesting to get rid of it. Additionally, it is way too big and heavy for me to get out of here by myself, and won't fit in my car. I had to make my company's maintenance guy drive to my house and load it into a van to bring it here in the first place (for this reason). So, I'd feel like kind of a jerk making him drag it back out of here because I'd decided it was too much trouble.

Thanks for all the ideas! I think I'll start with the soap/oil/water and then move onto scary chemicals if that doesn't work.
posted by something something at 6:55 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Cheapest way to drive an 8x4x1' package from LA to...   |   Shockwave Flash causing instability? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.