Is a white powdery substance beginning to appear on the leaves of your much beloved Monstera plant?
Do you suspect it might be scale, one of many sap-sucking insects that can cause damage to houseplants?
If so, you aren’t alone. Many home and plant owners have had to deal with this annoying pest. But don’t worry.
In this blog post, I will help you identify scale on Monstera and discuss some treatment options.
Read onward for all the information you need to keep your favorite foliage friend healthy and happy.
Scale Insects on Monstera: How to Identify and Treat it
You can identify scales on Monstera by looking for small, round, raised bumps on the leaves. To treat them, use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. You can also use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to dab the scales. Remove the affected leaves and spray them with water daily to get rid of them.
What is a Monstera Plant?
Monstera plant, also known as the Swiss cheese plant, is a tropical houseplant from the Araceae family. Its botanical name is Monstera deliciosa.
The Monstera plant is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, including Mexico, Panama, and Colombia.
It thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 to 12, and you can also grow it indoors and outdoors. However, it is primarily cultivated as an indoor plant in most regions.
The growth rate of the Monstera plant can be moderate to fast. This depends on the growing conditions, such as light, temperature, humidity, and soil moisture.
The Monstera plant can grow up to 10-20 feet in height and 6-8 feet in width in its natural habitat. As a houseplant, it grows up to 6-8 feet in height and 3-5 feet in width.
When young, this plant has heart-shaped, glossy green leaves with deep splits and perforations that resemble Swiss cheese.
The splits and perforations increase as the plant grows, and the leaves become more fenestrated.
When mature, the leaves become large and deeply lobed to about 2 feet in diameter. The leaves develop multiple splits and perforations that create a unique and attractive appearance.
The stem of the mature Monstera plant becomes thick and develops aerial roots that help it climb and attach to trees or other support structures in its natural habitat.
Aside from its aesthetic value, it has numerous benefits, such as air purification and stress reduction. So why not add a Monstera plant to your home and enjoy its unique beauty?
What are Scale Insects?
Scale insects are small, sap-sucking that feed on the phloem of plants. They come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes.
Some species measure only 1 millimeter, while others reach 10 millimeters long. Scale insects can be found in any climate and attack indoor and outdoor plants.
Scale insects can damage plants in several ways. The feeding activity of the scale insect causes direct physical damage to the plant and can weaken it, making it susceptible to other diseases.
These unwanted parasites also excrete a sticky honeydew on leaves, which attracts secondary pests such as sooty molds and ants.
This further hampers the growth and health of the plant.
The Life Cycle of Scale Insects
Scale lifecycle varies depending on the species. The cycle starts with the egg stage, in which scale insects lay eggs underneath soft or hard protective coverings.
After the eggs hatch, the crawlers emerge, moving around the plant’s surface to find a suitable feeding spot. They then molt, entering the nymph stage.
They start growing a protective covering and feeding on the plant’s sap at this stage. Once they reach maturity, the insects become adults.
Their protective covering becomes thicker and harder. Adult female scale insects lay hundreds of eggs during their lifetime.
Some species can reproduce asexually, while others require males for fertilization.
The life cycle duration varies depending on the species and environmental conditions, ranging from two months to over a year.
Types of Scale Insects
Scale insects are divided into two main types: armored scales and soft scales. Let’s get into the details of each type.
1. Armored scales
Armored scales look different. They can be round, long, and flat and come in colors like yellow or orange.
Measuring only 1/16 to ⅛ inches long, these tiny bugs boast a shell-like cover that protects their delicate bodies.
They can be found in hidden areas such as stems, leaf joints, and lower leaf surfaces.
The types of armored scales include Oystershell, Euonymus, Pine Needle, and San Jose scales.
2. Soft scales
Unlike armored scales, soft scales lack a hard shell but make up for it with their waxy exterior.
Ranging in size from ⅛ to ¼ inch in length, these little insects have an oval to round, bumpy, or dome-shaped body.
Their color is light when they’re young, but they become darker as they mature. These pests love to make themselves at home in soft places, which is how they got their name.
And while several soft scales are out there, including cottony maple, European elm, Fletcher, hemispherical, Lecanium, and magnolia scale, they all threaten our indoor plants.
How Do I Identify Scale on Monstera?
To identify the scale on Monstera plants, look for small, raised bumps or shells on the plant’s leaves and stems.
These bumps vary in color depending on the scale of insect species but are brown, black, or tan.
The bumps may feel hard and shell-like or slightly sticky if you touch the bumps. This means you should also know the signs and symptoms of scale infestation.
- Yellowing of the leaves
- Wilting of stems
- Irregular patterns on the plant’s foliage
- A white, almost wax-like substance
- Drooping of leaves
- Presence of honeydew, a sticky substance secreted by the insects as they feed
If you suspect your Monstera plant has pest infestations, use a magnifying glass to look at the bumps on the leaves and stems.
What Attracts Scales to Monstera?
You know that scales will not go for any plant, so what about Monstera attracts them? Let’s find out.
Overwatering Monstera plants can lead to insect infestations in several ways. When a Monstera plant is overwatered, the soil can become waterlogged.
This creates a damp and humid environment that is ideal for the growth and reproduction of scale insects. Scale insects are also attracted to moist environments.
In addition to creating a favorable environment for scale insects, overwatering weakens the plant, making it more vulnerable to infestation.
When a Monstera plant is overwatered, its roots become damaged, and the plant may develop root rot, which can cause the plant leaves to turn yellow and drop off.
As the plant becomes weakened, it becomes less able to defend itself against Monstera pests like scale insects.
Overwatering can also lead to the accumulation of salts and minerals in the soil. This may damage the Monstera plant’s roots and make it more susceptible to scale insect infestation.
2. Wrong potting soil
When the soil is of low quality, it may lack the necessary nutrients that the plant needs to grow and thrive.
This can cause the plant to become stressed and weak, making it more susceptible to infestation by pests like scale insects.
Secondly, poor potting soil can lead to overwatering or underwatering the Monstera plant. This can create an ideal environment for the growth and reproduction of scale insects.
Wrong potting soil can also contain pathogens or harmful bacteria that can damage the Monstera plant’s roots and weaken its immune system.
This can make the plant more vulnerable to scale insect infestation.
3. Inadequate sunlight
Monstera plants require bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. Monstera’s leaves will become weak and susceptible to scale infestations without adequate light.
Too much direct sunlight can cause scale problems, so find the perfect lighting balance for your Monstera plant.
How to Prevent Scales Naturally
1. Quarantine new plants
Before introducing any new plants into your garden, inspect them for signs of scale infestation.
If you find any, keep the plant separate from other plants and treat it with insecticidal soap or neem oil solution.
Even if the plant shows no signs of infestation when you buy it, always quarantine it for at least a week to be sure.
This will also help in preventing the spread of any other diseases or pests that may be present on the plant.
2. Apply neem oil
Neem oil is a natural insecticide and repellent against scale bugs. It can be used in both the larval and adult stages of development.
It will prevent the pest from reproducing or feeding on your plants.
Mix one tablespoon of neem oil with one cup of water in a spray bottle and apply it to your infested plants.
You can also wipe it on the infested areas using a cloth or cotton.
Ensure you coat the entire plant, including the undersides of leaves and stems, for maximum protection.
3. Homemade insecticide
In case you don’t want to use neem oil or commercial insecticides, you can also use own homemade insecticide.
To make it, mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle filled with water.
Spray it directly on the infested parts of the plant and repeat every few days until the scales insects are gone.
You can also spray the entire plant to avoid any further infestations.
4. Introduce natural predators
Certain types of parasitic wasps and ladybugs feed on scale bugs.
So, having these beneficial predators around your garden can help naturally reduce the scale population.
Try planting flowers and shrubs that attract ladybugs and other predator species, such as goldenrod and yarrow.
Natural predators include birds, lizards, frogs, toads, and spiders. Try introducing bird feeders into your garden or providing nesting boxes for birds in the area.
5. Clean pots and gardening tools regularly
Regularly cleaning your gardening tools and pots also helps in preventing scale infestation. This helps prevent the spread of scale insects from one plant to another.
To clean your tools, use warm soapy water and scrub them thoroughly with a brush. Rinse off the soap and then dry them off in the sun.
For planting pots, use a mixture of rubbing alcohol and dishwashing liquid to clean away any dirt or pests that may be present on them.
6. Control leaf litter and plant debris
Keeping your garden clean and tidy to prevent scale infestations. Remove fallen leaves, pruned branches, or other plant debris to prevent insects from hiding and thriving in them.
You should also keep your garden free of weeds, as these can provide a food source for scales insects.
How to Get Rid of Scale on Monstera
Scales can be a troublesome pest to get rid of on Monstera plants. To get rid of all the scale, here’s what to do:
1. Use insecticide or rubbing alcohol
To treat scale insects on Monstera plants using insecticides, choose a product specifically labeled for scale insects and safe for Monstera plants.
Before application, carefully inspect the plant and remove any heavily infested leaves or branches.
Remove as many scale insects as possible with a soft-bristled brush or cotton swab.
Apply the insecticide following the label instructions, covering the entire plant. Include the undersides of leaves and stems.
Avoid getting it on the soil or any parts of the plant that are not infested. Depending on the severity of the infestation, repeat the treatment in a few weeks and ensure you eliminate the insects.
Monitor the plant in the weeks after treatment and repeat the treatment if you notice any sign of the insects. Ensure you wear protective clothing and avoid skin contact.
2. Prune infected parts
To begin, examine the plant to locate the infested parts. These insects are often found on the underside of leaves, along the stems, and in the leaf axils.
Use a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears to cut off the infested parts. Cut about 1/4 inch above a leaf node to encourage new growth.
Before use, disinfect the shears by wiping them with rubbing alcohol. After pruning, dispose of the infected parts immediately in a sealed plastic bag to prevent the further spread of the infestation.
Remember to prune during the plant’s active growing season to promote new growth.
3. Remove scales with a cotton swab
Removing scale insects from a Monstera plant with a cotton swab is a manual pest control method.
Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe off the insects and cover all affected areas gently.
Have a tray or container ready to collect any insects that fall off. Use a gentle touch when wiping off the insects to avoid damaging the plant.
Continue wiping off the insects until you have removed as many as possible, using multiple cotton swabs if necessary.
4. Use insecticidal soap
Using insecticidal soap is eco-friendly for removing scale insects from indoor plants. First, examine the plant to locate the scale insects.
Choose a suitable insecticidal soap that is labeled for controlling insects on houseplants. Prepare the solution according to the instructions on the label.
Apply the solution carefully, covering all the infested areas of the plant. Avoid spraying in direct sunlight or on very hot days, as this makes the solution evaporate too quickly.
5. Isolate the plant
To isolate the plant and remove scale insects, inspect it for any signs of infection or unhealthy growth.
If you find any suspicious areas, gently remove them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Once you are sure there are no further signs of infestation, move the plant to an isolated location away from other plants and from any doors or windows.
6. Use horticultural oils
Horticultural oils are an effective and safe way to remove scale insects from Monstera plants.
Mix the solution according to the instructions on the label, and then use a spray bottle or garden sprayer to apply the solution to the affected areas of the plant.
Cover all the infested areas of the plant. Follow the instructions on the label carefully, as application rates and timing may differ depending on the plant species and severity of the infestation.
Choose a horticultural oil that is safe for Monstera plants and labeled for controlling scales.
7. Replace the soil
Replacing the soil is a great option to reduce scale infestation. Remove the plant from its container and shake off as much old soil as possible.
Clean the container thoroughly with soap and water to remove any remaining insects or eggs.
Once the container is clean, add fresh potting soil and replant your Monstera, giving it a good watering.
This method may not work entirely if the insects have spread to other indoor plants. Be sure to keep an eye on your plant and continue with other control methods if necessary.
After Treatment Care
After treating the scale, you must ensure the infestation does not return. Always watch for any sign of returning scale insects or new infestations.
Regularly inspect plants for small bumps on leaves, stems, and other parts. If you notice a new scale buildup, treat it immediately.
You should also maintain your plant’s overall health by keeping it in an ideal environment and providing proper nutrition with regular fertilizing.
A healthy, thriving plant is less likely to become infested with scale insects or other pests.
Also, avoid over watering and create a well-ventilated environment for your plants.
Can Monstera Recover from Scale?
Yes, Monstera can recover from scale. It is easier when you catch the problem early, as scale can cause yellowing leaves and leaf drop if left unchecked.
To help your Monstera recover from scale, remove any visible insects carefully with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Then remove any wax or honeydew build-up caused by the pest’s feeding with a damp cloth and warm water.
After this, increase the humidity around your plant to help it heal. This can be done by misting your Monstera daily or placing a humidifier in the room.
Finally, check that your Monstera receives enough nutrients and adjust any fertilizer applications if needed.
Does scale live in soil?
Yes, scale can live in the soil. Depending on the type of scale and the environment, these insects may feed on plants or other organic matter in the soil. Soil-dwelling scales commonly lay eggs directly into the ground, where they remain until hatching several weeks later. In some cases, soil-dwelling species will also produce crawlers that move away from their egg-laying site and seek out new food sources.
Should I repot a Monstera with scale?
Yes. Repotting a Monstera with scale will help reduce infestation spread and make for healthier overall growth. Scale can be difficult to remove once it has become established, but replanting in fresh soil and increasing air circulation can help prevent further damage.
How often should you spray for scale?
The frequency of spraying for scale depends on the severity of the infestation and the type of scale insect present. If your plants are heavily infested, you may need to spray them every 7-14 days until all signs of infestation are gone. If a lighter infestation is present, spraying every 3-4 weeks is usually sufficient.
Does rubbing alcohol get rid of the scale?
Yes. Rubbing alcohol helps to remove scale insects, their eggs, and their residue from the surface of plants. To use rubbing alcohol as an insecticide:
1. Dilute one part rubbing alcohol with one part water in a spray bottle.
2. Spray the solution directly onto the affected areas of the plant.
3. Repeat as necessary until all signs of the insects are gone.
Should I throw away plants with scales?
The answer to this question depends on the severity of the infestation and the type of plant you have. In some cases, getting rid of the insects may be possible without discarding the plant. However, if treating scale becomes hard, discard the affected plant to protect your other plants.
With this informative blog post, you should be well-equipped to identify and treat scale infestations on most Monstera plants.
Treatments range from organic methods like insecticidal soaps or neem oil to chemical agents like horticultural oil.
Before initiating any treatment, always confirm that the pest you’re dealing with is scale. Otherwise, it’s possible to damage beneficial insects.
Prevention is key for keeping scale off of your Monstera plant. Practice basic hygiene and inspect new plants thoroughly before bringing them into your home.
Keeping a few extra things in mind can help keep scale infestations at bay.