Are you struggling with sago palm scale infestation?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. These pesky insects can wreak havoc on your beloved sago palm, but there is a natural solution that can help – neem oil.
Derived from the seeds of the neem tree, this organic pesticide can effectively treat sago palm scale and leave a protective layer on the plant’s surface.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of using neem oil to save your sago palm from severe damage or even death.
So, let’s get started!
How To Use Neem Oil On My Sago Palm?
First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that the neem oil you’re using contains azadirachtin, which is the active ingredient that slowly kills the scale and leaves a protective layer on the plant’s surface.
Next, mix the neem oil with water following the directions on the label. It’s recommended to spray your sago palm in the early morning when temperatures are cooler, ideally above 70F and below 90F, as these are the optimum temperature ranges for effectiveness.
Spray the plant thoroughly, making sure to cover all parts of the plant, including the top and bottom of the leaves. This will ensure that all scales are treated and eradicated.
It’s important to note that treating sago palm scale is not an easy process. The insects can just blow back onto revived plants, and their ability to hide in cracks and even roots prevents some controls from working completely.
If you’re dealing with a severe infestation, it’s recommended to prune off any infested fronds before applying neem oil. You can also apply paraffin-based horticultural oil to all parts of the plant, mixing 3 tablespoons of oil with water and spraying the entire palm. Don’t forget under the leaves and trunk. Apply two to three times with five days between each application for better control.
For even more effective control, consider using a systemic insecticide as a soil drench applied at the rate recommended by the manufacturer. The roots take up the chemical, and the insects suck it out and die. It can also get rid of persistent scale on roots.
There is ongoing research on using natural predators like beetles and wasps to treat sago palm scale in a non-toxic manner, but they are not commercially available yet. Persistence is usually key when treating sago palm scale, so don’t forget to spray consistently or the pests will make a grand return.
Understanding Sago Palm Scale Infestation
Sago palm scale is a common problem for sago palm owners. Many people believe that scale may be a bacterial condition, but these are insects that attack the plant and consume the sap. Essentially parasites, the sago palm scale has two common varieties: the Asian Cycad scale and the Oleander scale. The Oleander scale feeds on the top of the fronds, while the Asian scale feeds on the underside. These insects grow under a protective wax shield resembling reptilian scales, hence the name.
If you see a frond with a white covering, this indicates severe infection, and scraping the frond will tell you if the scale is alive or dead. If the residue is dry and powdery, the scale is dead; the insects are still alive if wet and mushy. Scale insects, specifically the crawlers, suck sap from the sago palm. As the crawlers feed on the sap of Cycas revoluta, it excretes a sticky substance called honeydew. This honeydew attracts ants, flies, and other insects. Honeydew also traps fungus spores. The honeydew leads to sooty mold, which looks like black soot and prevents light from getting through to the leaves.
While scale insect pests are incredibly tiny, the “scales” are easy to see. Check for white or black dots, or scales, on the tops and bottoms of your sago palm. On heavily infested sago palms, the leaves will look white. Check to see if the scales are alive by scraping them. If the scales are dead, they will be dry and powdery. If the scales are moist and squishy, they are active.
Sagos were once considered traditional Florida landscape plants, but their popularity has dwindled thanks to a pest called cycad aulacaspis scale or Asian cycad scale. Aulacaspis yasumatsui is an armored scale that has been observed on many cycads in Florida from the Cycadaceae, Zamiaceae, and Standeriaceae families, although this scale seems to favor sagos. Newly hatched scales, called crawlers, initially infest the trunk and base of the leaves. These crawlers will also infest the leaves, cones, seeds, and roots of cycads.
The damage from these tiny sucking insects initially appears as yellow or bleached-looking spots eventually making the leaves brown and crispy. Highly infested cycads are almost completely covered with a white crust that consists of living and dead insects. Cycad aulacaspis scale seems to spread over short distances by wind and long distances by transport of infested plants. It can coat a sago within months and kill it within a year. The scale can even affect roots down to two feet deep.
What Is Neem Oil And How Does It Work?
Neem oil is a natural and organic pesticide derived from the seeds of the neem tree. The neem tree is native to tropical forests in Burma, India, and Sri Lanka, and has been used as a botanical insecticide for hundreds of years. Neem oil is particularly valuable to indoor and hydroponic growers, as it is effective against a variety of pests and diseases.
Neem oil contains azadirachtin, which is the active ingredient responsible for killing and repelling insects. After the azadirachtin is extracted from neem oil, the remaining material is called clarified hydrophobic neem oil. This is the active ingredient in ready-to-use neem oil sprays that can be found at garden centers.
Neem oil works by suffocating insects and covering their bodies with oil that blocks their breathing openings. It is most effective against immature insects, and can take time to work. Reapplication may be necessary to completely control insect populations.
In addition to its insecticidal properties, neem oil can also be used to manage some fungal disease issues, such as powdery mildew. It works by preventing the germination and penetration of fungal spores into leaf tissue.
It’s important to accurately identify pests before applying neem oil, and only apply it if the pest is listed on the product label. Neem can harm beneficial insects as well as pests, so it’s important to use it carefully. Neem oil can also damage plants by burning their foliage, so it’s important to test the product on a small area before applying it to the entire plant.
Preparing Your Sago Palm For Neem Oil Treatment
Before applying neem oil to your sago palm, it’s important to prepare the plant properly. Begin by inspecting the plant for any heavily infested fronds, and remove them immediately. This will prevent the scale from spreading to other parts of the plant.
Next, make sure that the plant is well-watered and not under any stress. A healthy plant will be better equipped to handle the treatment and recover from any damage caused by the scale.
It’s also important to read and follow the instructions on the neem oil label carefully. Mix the neem oil with water according to the recommended ratio, and shake well before use.
When applying neem oil, use a sprayer to cover all parts of the plant, including the top and bottom of the leaves. Make sure to apply it in the early morning when temperatures are cooler, as this is when the scale is most active.
After applying neem oil, avoid watering your sago palm for a few days to allow it to fully absorb the treatment. Keep an eye on your plant for any signs of new infestations or damage, and continue to treat as needed.
Remember that treating sago palm scale can take time and patience, but with consistent effort, you can successfully control and prevent future infestations.
Repeat Treatments And Maintenance
After the initial treatment, it’s important to continue monitoring your sago palm for any signs of scale. Repeat treatments may be necessary every 7-10 days until the infestation is completely eradicated.
If you notice any new infestations, it’s important to act quickly and treat the plant immediately. This will prevent the scale from spreading and causing further damage to your sago palm.
In addition to repeat treatments, it’s important to maintain a healthy environment for your sago palm. This includes regular watering, fertilization, and pruning to remove dead or damaged fronds.
Regularly inspect your sago palm for any signs of yellowing leaves or other issues that may indicate a problem. Addressing these issues promptly can prevent them from becoming a larger problem in the future.
Other Natural Solutions For Sago Palm Scale Infestation
In addition to neem oil and horticultural oil, there are a few other natural solutions for sago palm scale infestations that you can try.
One option is to introduce natural predators like ladybugs and parasitic wasps to attack the scale. These insects will feed on the scale and help to reduce the population. However, it’s important to note that this method may not be effective in severe infestations, and it can take time for the predators to establish themselves and start feeding on the scale.
Another natural solution is to use garlic or onion spray. To make the spray, blend a few cloves of garlic or a small onion with water and strain the mixture. Then, dilute the mixture with water and spray it on your sago palm. The strong odor of the garlic or onion will repel the scale insects, preventing them from infesting your plant.
Lastly, you can try using a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water to kill the scale insects. Mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part water and spray it on your sago palm. The alcohol will kill the scale on contact, but be sure to test a small area of your plant first to ensure it doesn’t damage your plant’s leaves or trunk.