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china doll plant branches have spots

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From: Teresa Bergman
Oklahoma City, OK
I recently acquired a China Doll plant and your site has been helpful in learning how to care for it. I noticed today that the branches have small brown spots. Pictures I have seen online seem to show these same spots. Is this normal? Just want to be sure it isn't some type of pest or problem. Thanks so much.

Extension Message
From: James Schmidt
Extension Specialist, Home Horticulture/4-H
Department of Crop Sciences
The question is - are these spots a discoloration of the stem or raised, brown, bumpy areas? I'm not familiar with any disorder that causes brown spots per se on the stem. If raised areas, it could possibly be scale insects. They look like hard shells and are approximately 1/16 to 1/8th inch in size. You should see a sticky material or honeydew in association with them and you should be able to scrape them off. If it is scale, treatment is a challenge to be sure and kill the hatching eggs. Therefore, several treatments are usually needed. If you think you have scale, check with a local garden center/greenhouse for recommended controls for your state or contact a local extension office.

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