A Report From The Plant Doctor

Recently I was consulted regarding a very sick rose bush.  So the plant doctor took off to investigate the rose in distress, which turned out to be growing in a pot, in a rather shady area.  That was red flag number one, as roses really do best in a sunny location.  And this also means it needs more water.  And of course, no salty water, but regular drinking water.

On closer examination (I did not need my stethoscope or magnifying glass…) it was obvious the once happy blooming rose bush had a serious infestation of scale.

Scale are microscopic insects that suck on the plant’s vital life juices: chlorophyl.  And they have mastered the art of disguise since they hide underneath their oval-shaped, waxy, “barracks” while doing their destructive work.  And they can do it fast!  First, at the time of their invasion, they start at the backside of the plant, away from the owner’s vision.  Then, they gradually move their “barracks” into other places, and by the time the predators have been caught, it is often too late (as in the case of this gardener’s rose).  Several branches of the rose bush were covered with colonies of back-to-back scales!

The best remedy then?  Into the trash, being careful not to let out any escapees onto nearby plants, in a huge trash bag.  I mean, these guys are tenacious.

So, what preventative measures can we take, if we don’t want to deal with plant bugs, (like scale, mealybugs, aphids, white fly and spidermites, which happen to live in the same world as we do)?

Try this: Buy healthy plants from a reputable place. Give your plants the best care, which includes good soil, sunlight or shade, whichever they require, enough water and regular fertilizer. Yes, talking to them seems to help too at times,…although only kind words seem to work…Give your plants a regular “haircut”, in other words, a regular pruning away of dead, dying, excessive or otherwise unattractive foliage will keep plants and their owners happy.

About Fleur

Fleur is a retired freelance Garden Writer, currently exploring Baja flora and living in Punta Banda. You may reach her at [email protected]

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