May 15, 2006

Oleander and full-scale battle

Oliander nerium blossomAhh, the sweet scent of vanilla! Ahh, the clusters of rose-like blossoms! Ahh, the oh-so-Mediterranean look of potted oleanders! Argh, the joys of scale!

What is scale you ask? Well, follow my dirty fingernail to the answer. Scale is a nasty little sucking insect, that like barnacles on a hull, latch onto your plant for dear life. They particularly like to hide on the underside of the leaves, right by the central vein, where the sucking is sweetest.

Getting rid of scaleA few little spots of scale here and there are not going to threaten your plant or your sanity. The problem is, a few little dots left to themselves quickly become quite a few little dots and can turn into a full-scale infestation. (Oh no! There she goes again!) In the spirit of "a stitch in time saves nine", the easiest way to deal with scale is to simply scrape it off with a fingernail. My two oleanders flank my chair on the patio, so I just have to turn my head and reach over. This is usually enough.

Oleaner neriumBut when I have been inattentive - like over the winter - they can multiply to the point where I can't keep up. That's when I bring out the big guns. Cepacol. Yes, you read right, good old yellow mouthwash. Listerine will do just fine too, as long as it's yellow. Last spring I brought my freckly oleanders outside and sprayed them liberally with yellow mouthwash. A few days later, the scale flaked off instead of squishing - a sure sign it was dead. I then had the entire summer to remove them at my leisure, a few little scrapes at a time. Dead scale doesn't breed. I haven't had to repeat the treatment since.

Sure there are pesticides that will work, although not very many. Scale's hard shell makes it difficult to kill. But the mouthwash is probably considerably easier on the environment, and anything you don't pour into your spray bottle can be used to freshen your breath.

By the way, do you think the bags of leaves add anything to the Mediterranean ambiance?


toughgal said...

How can I take cuttings from my oleander??
I have tried and tried, but very little success.

Desi Subekti said...

Dearest Janet,
Your Oleander's very interesting. So I want to get it. Would you like to give me " How can I get that Oleander's like yours ", please ? I hope to get one. Thanks, Janet.

Desi Subekti.
Jakarta - Indonesia.

Janet Ursel said...

Desi, I'm so sorry, but I have no idea where you can find these in Indonesia.

Desi Subekti said...

Dearest Janet Ursel,
Thanks for your attention,for this time I just watch your Oleander in Google.

Desi Subekti
Jakarta - Indonesia