I have an indoor tree plant (not sure of the specific name) but it is in the palm tree family. It has developed a white, beaded, cottage cheese-like substance on the leaves. Do you know what it is and is there a treatment to get rid of it?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Tami: Palms are susceptible to a few different insects, including mealy bugs and soft-bodied scale. I cannot be certain without seeing a sample of your palm, but from what you describe both of these are a possibility. For a positive diagnosis you can take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service or a garden center with a knowledgeable staff. As a general rule, plants are more likely to become diseased if they are not growing in ideal conditions. If your palm is not receiving enough sunlight or water, it may be stressed and more susceptible to insect/disease problems. This is especially true if you take your palm outdoors during the warmer months and over-winter it indoors. The light levels are lower during the winter months so it is hard to give these sun lovers the amount of light they thrive on. Insecticidal soap is an organic option for getting rid of these insects. You can also use an insecticidal systemic. The soap is a spray and the systemic is a granular product that you top-dress the soil with and it works internally through the root system of the plant. As with any product, make sure to follow recommended application rates. You can also take a damp paper towel and wipe off the infected foliage; check the underside as well. This is time-consuming but it will remove a lot of the insects and stop any further damage.