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Ask the Plant Expert: What is this Sticky Substance on my Schefflera?

Dear Plant Expert:Schefflera with Sticky Substance
Our schefflera has a sticky residue on its leaves and underneath the plant itself.  After looking closer, while taking the picture, I see what appears to be little white bugs.  How should I clean it and treat it?
Thank You for Your Assistance,
Plant Expert Reply:

You will need to apply a houseplant spray to the plant in order to kill the insects. In the meantime, you can take a wet rag and clean the leaves. The rag needs to be dipped in lukewarm water that has a couple drops of liquid soap (use a non-antibacterial soap).  Good luck and let me know if you need help with anything else.
Jamie Jamison Adams
FSN Plant Expert

Ask the Plant Expert: A Torrid Tale of Oaks and Azaleas

Dear Plant Expert:

I have 6 matured live oaks in my front yard. Can I plant azaleas around the bottom of these trees?


Plant Expert Reply:


Azaleas and oaks can live together quite happily. However, azaleas do not due well in deep shade so plant them as far away from the base of the oak as possible to give the azaleas access to the better light. Also keep in mind that you may need to water the azaleas in the summer since the oak trees will use most of the available water.

Hope this information was helpful!

Jamie Jamison Adams

Ask the Flower Expert: Can You Tell Me the Name of This Plant?

Dear Flower Expert:

I bought this at a local grocery store around Valentine’s Day. It didn’t have a tag on it. Can you please take a look and let me know what this is?



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Flower Expert Reply:

On first appearance it looks like it might be a type of Scilla hyacinthoides. The genus Scilla contains around 90 different specious. These bulbous perennials are often used as a naturalizing element under trees and shrubs. In recent years, the plant has been cultivated for cut flower production or as a blooming potted pant. Hope this helps!

As with all plant identification, I welcome any input from our readers. Let us know if you think this plant is a Scilla or something different!


Jamie Jamison Adams

Ask the Plant Expert: My Schefflera Started Losing Leaves

Dear Plant Expert:Schefflera Shedding Leaves

My schefflera just started losing leaves, even healthy ones, and I’m not sure what to do for it. I live in Michigan, and it lived on my back deck where it absolutely loved it. I’ve had to move it back inside and it’s not happy right now. What might be a few causes to my problem? Help!



Plant Expert Reply:


Scheffleras do not like temperatures below 60 degrees or cold drafts. With this in mind, I would say your plant is showing signs of cold damage. Since you have moved it inside, this should help. Make sure the plant is not in direct line of any cold drafts. Within a few weeks the plant should recover.

Good luck and please let me know if I can help with anything else.


Jamie Jamison Adams

Ask the Plant Expert: Please Help My Corn Plant – What Am I Doing Wrong?

Ask The Plant Expert:Sun Damaged Corn Plant

What is wrong with my plant?

I received this plant as a condolence at my mothers funeral. When I reviewed it there were no problems with it, but about two days after bringing it home the leaves started to brown … that was about a week ago. Now it looks like this. I would really love to save this plant. Can you help?

It is located in front of my French doors that do not have curtains and is about two feet away from a heater vent, but the vent does not blow directly on it, and the temperature is kept at around 72° in the house. I have watered it once since bringing it home. The care instructions said moderately bright light and only water when soil is dry, so I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.

I had problems sending multiple photos so I just included the whole plant. If you need others please email me a location that they can be sent.


Plant Expert Reply:


I think the plant is suffering from too much direct sunlight and not enough humidity. If the plant is closer than 18″ from the French doors, the sunlight may be too strong. Keep in mind the glass from the door can cause the sunlight concentration to intensify. This will cause a burning effect on the leaves. Low humidity can also cause browning of the tips and leaves.

I recommend you pull the plant at least 18″ from the window and mist the air around the plant every other day with lukewarm water. You should see new growth within a couple of weeks. You can remove any of the severely damaged leaves.

One more thing. Check your pot and make sure any excess water can drain away from the plant.

Good Luck and keep me posted.


Jamie Jamison Adams

Broad Mites Might Be The Problem With Your Schefflera

Ask The Plant Expert:Schefflera With Board Mites

Hello, Through unfortunate circumstances I have become the keeper of 2 Schefflera plants. One is a pretty good sized ‘bush’ and the other is much smaller.

They both came from a florist and looked extraordinary 5 days ago. The problem started surfacing the day we brought them home, the leaves started wilting, turning a dark greenish-brown and then falling off. On the smaller plant some of the leaves actually look shriveled and dried (mostly the smaller newer growth). There are a few leaves that have spots on them.

I’m having a hard time telling if they are dry, the soil seems to be deep in the pot and it seems to just be the vine/stem in the soil. Because of this they have been watered thoroughly and drained before putting them back in their decorative pots. They are both in a brightly lit room, the smaller one has been placed near a great vent so I just moved it today.

The larger one is in the same room but not near a vent. They were shipped to a visitation and then put in the car for a few hours before coming home with me – the temp that day was in the single digits. When I first noticed these symptoms it reminded me of what lettuce looks like when it gets frozen then thawed, I thought the extreme temps did something to some of the branches so I trimmed quite a bit of the sickly looking leaves/stems from them. Regardless of doing that they are rapidly losing life. They are holding a sentimental value right now for me and I would really love to keep them happy but not sure how to fix the problem.


Plant Expert Reply:

Wow. It does look like your plants are having a bit of trouble, but I think your plants are still in fairly good condition.

Exposure to cold temperatures may have caused some of the problems you are seeing. But from a glance, I would say the plants could have a broad mite problem. Broad mites will often cause new leaves to cup downward and pucker, as well as cause leaves to be stunted with serrated margins. You will need a magnifying glass to identify the mites. If your plant does have mites, I recommend removing all damaged leaves and stems and treating with a miticide. Your local garden center should have one that will work.

The sticky substance could also indicate an aphid problem. If you have aphids, you should be able to see them without a magnifying glass. Look at the underneath side of the leaves. If aphids are a problem, you will need to treat with an insecticide.

I am not sure what you mean when you say ” I’m having a hard time telling if they are dry, the soil seems to be deep in the pot and it seems to just be the vine/stem in the soil. Because of this they have been watered thoroughly and drained before putting them back in their decorative pots.”

If you can give me a little more information or a picture of the soil, I think I can help you avoid water stress issues.

At the bottom of our Dwarf Schefflera page you can find a list of care instruction that might help.

I hope this information is helpful.


Jamie Jamison Adams

Caring for a Six Trunk Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island PineAsk The Plant Expert:Just bought a Norfolk Island Pine…actually six trunks…three feet high for Christmas. Read your YouTube article and wish to thank you. Would you mind telling me if I can or should separate the clump of six, or will they need to remain together? Can the plant(s) be safely re-potted as you usually re-pot plants, or is there something special I need to know? I live in Austin, Texas in an apartment with a nice patio where it should do well until summer, at which time it will need to come inside.

Thank you, Georgia Willis

Plant Expert Reply:


How very unusual. I haven’t seen one with six trunks. Whether you have three or six trunks, the recommendation would be the same, do not try to separate the trunks. If the plant seems happy in the current container leave it alone. However, you will need to make sure that the container allows for proper drainage. If you need to re-pot the plant, choose a container with a good drain hole that is 1 1/2 times larger than the current pot. Fill the pot with a general purpose houseplant potting soil so that the top of the current rootball is about 1/2″ to 3/4″ from the top of the new container. Do not add soil to the top of the rootball; simply fill in around the sides, then water thoroughly. For more care instruction, you can check out our Northfolk Island Pine page.

Hope this information was helpful.

Jamie Jamison Adams

Common Name of Two Plants

Ask The Expert: “One you will laugh I need a spelling lesson. sheffeleria? even the spell check cannot help me. the other is what is the common name for phothos? and spelling for both.” – Patricia

Plant Expert Reply:


Schefflera is commonly referred to as octopus plant or umbrella plant. Pothos is the common name for Epipremnum aurem (syn Scindaspus Aureus). Hope this information helps.

All the Leaves on My Gardenia are Dying and Falling Off

Ask the Expert: All the leaves on my Gardenia house plant are dying and falling off.

The Gardenia’s leaves are turning yellow on the outer edges then turning brown in the middle and falling off. What is the problem and how can it be corrected? – Cleo

Plant Expert Reply: 


Yellowing leaves can be a result of many different issues including fungus, insects, nematodes, insufficient light, temperature changes, over-watering or under watering. It can also simply be a result of the natural aging process. The oldest leaves of a Gardenia often turn yellow and fall off. To correctly diagnose the problem, I will need to know a little bit about the plant’s environment.

Is the problem occurring on lower older leaves of the plant?

Has the light, temperature or watering changed recently?

Do you see any webbing or signs of insects on the plant? You might need a magnifying glass to see the insects.

If you could send me a photo of the leaves that are yellowing that would be helpful. Once we diagnose the problem it should be very easy to correct.


Ask the Expert: What Flower is This?

Unknown FlowerAsk the Expert: What flower is this?

What flower is this? The stem is long and slender. The buds are shown in the picture. The piston is short.

Thank you, Hyunmee

Plant Expert Reply:


It looks like something from the Malvaceae family, but I can’t be sure with only the flower photo. Can you send me a picture of the leaves and stalk?