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Scale Insects and Watering

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Some insects seem to just appear on our plants overnight and this past week the Master Gardeners have fielded calls and identified Euonymus scale many times. Right now the scale is easy to spot as the young crawlers are white in color and very numerous and contrast well against the green of the leaf. Mixed in with the immature crawlers are the older female adults that have died.

These scales have been on the plants for several previous seasons and their numbers have built up so we now can see them easily. Scale insects feed on the sap from their host plant. This is energy that is being taken away from the host plant, impacting the vigor. This is pretty important, especially on a broad leaved plant like Euonymous. If the crawlers are still actively feeding and moving around, treatments can be made now. There are organic and inorganic choices, directed treatments and systemic. If you are using a directed spray, coverage is really important as the insects are on the underside of the leaves mainly. For the rest of this year, be sure the plantings are well watered and be prepared to feed next year.


Did we get what we have been wishing for – no more rain? It has dried off and you can see cracks in the garden beds and lawns that show a need for watering. Dry weather means less foliage disease problems most of the time. There are times for vegetables once they begin to flower and set fruit that available soil moisture is critical for vegetables. Any plant that produces a fruit like tomatoes or peppers will need water so the fruits develop quickly and completely. Bulb onions will be limited in size if during bulb growth water is limited. It will not matter if moisture returns, the size of the bulb will remain unchanged. Rapid fruit development is also important for the vine crops. Cucumbers are great example. We have all had a cucumber that is thick, then skinny and thick again. That skinny part of the fruit formed while water was limited.

Now is a good time to decide if you are going to let your lawn go dormant or water it well enough to keep it actively growing and a good green color. If you are going to water, then plan on feeding the lawn during this time. The extended water we did get earlier was really a good thing when it came to our lawns. The grass plant recovered well from last summer and many of smaller bare spots in the lawn filled in. If you are watering, be sure to put enough water out there to soak into the soil several inches. This encourages good deep roots that are better equipped to deal with a short term dry spell.

We have been able to skip some of the container watering while we had all the rain, but no longer. Big plants in tiny planters or pots will need to be watered every day. Dry hanging pots will be very light if you push up from the bottom. It will be easier for those plants to recover if you water in the afternoon so they have the time to recover during the night. Direct the water to the soil if you can to keep the leaves dry.

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