LET'S CATCH SCALE EARLY THIS YEAR!
Scale is rearing its ugly, crusty head as a problem once again. This becomes an even bigger problem for the newcomer to Houston gardening. Because most people ignore their landscapes at this time of the year and the problem of scale goes undetected and untreated.
Interestingly enough, it can be controlled very easily with insecticides like Malathion. In the past, I used to say that the best method organic control of scale can't be used just yet, because it wasn't cold enough yet for the use of Dormant Oil sprays. However, if you've been a subscriber to these e-mail tips or a frequent listener to the radio show, you can find the recipe of the new "organic" scale control we've been singing praises of in the scale control tip sheet, Another Homemade Insect Killer Designed For Scale.
So, as a reminder, you can use Malathion now or Dormant Oil after the first frost. But the new organic scale control is an equal blend of Molasses, Garlic Oil and Seaweed Extract. If you don't want to read the above mentioned tip sheet, then simply blend one ounce of each of these three organic products to one gallon of water and start spraying. And, please understand, you must use the agricultural versions of Molasses and Garlic Oil, not grocery store versions.
A final warning about Dormant Oil spray: If you use it now, it could be detrimental to plants that have been putting on new leaves of late. Once our weather gets a bit cooler and we have multiple 35 degree nights, you can begin using Dormant Oil sprays. In the meantime, that leaves Malathion and the new organic method as means of control.
What always interests me about scale, is how most people don't even know they have it until the infestation becomes so bad that it creates a disgusting amount of black sooty mold. Remember, when you see Black Sooty Mold, period, it is a symptom of an insect problem. At this time of the year the plants that tend to have the most scale problems are evergreen shrubs. Plants like Hawthorns, Hollies and Red Tips are the most susceptible. But it is important to keep an eye on trees that get a completely different type of scale, not to mention house plants like Ficus with woody limbs.
Luckily for us who are without vast knowledge of scale outside of the obvious white spots, Virginia Tech has an entire web page dedicated to scale insects so you can check out all the different kinds of scale!
After you get a chance to look at all the various forms of scale, please take the time to look at all your landscape shrubs and trees and see if you can catch a view of these insects in their earliest stages.
Until our next issue, here's to great gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively weekend mornings 8 a.m.-noon on TALKRADIO 950 KPRC.
GardenLine listeners and e-mail tip subscribers can purchase a copy of my new book at a discounted price - just $15.95 for the rest of the holiday season! This is the best on-line deal for this book ever! So take advantage of the holiday spirit and check it out!
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