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Is it normal for plants to have scale when you buy them?

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Quite a while ago I bought a plant from a garden centre, the first plant I ever bought. I found that it was suffering from scale. I removed all the scale manually with my fingernail, and checked it regularly, and eventually it seemed to stop coming back.

Recently I bought 6 plants to put in my garden, and when I looked at them I can see they too are infested with scale. A different type, these are much harder almost like tiny grey snail shells. It's going to take a lot of effort to get them all off, and since these are going outside I imagine it will be much more difficult to deal with them.

Should the nursery that I bought them from have ensured the plants were free of issues, or is it just a fact of life for plant shops that have hundreds of plants that they're going to come with issues?
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  • gozaimasu
    gozaimasu Posts: 860 Forumite
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    edited 13 October 2021 at 12:53AM
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    Was this in person or an online garden centre? If it was an online place then try to get a refund for selling you infected plants and with any luck you'll get to keep the plants.
    Otherwise I would say
    a) don't buy plants with scale insects from a garden centre
    b) if you really have to buy the plants with scale, try to negotiate a discount at the till before you buy them
    What are the plants in question? Maybe those are the types of plants that are susceptible to scale?
    I agree that we should be able to trust shops to sell us goods that are fit for service, but ultimately it is up to us as consumers to ensure we aren't getting ripped off by checking the products before we pay.
    Morrisons is a very profitable supermarket but they constantly rip me off by overcharging at the till when the shelf price is different, by selling me food past its use-by date (fish! and pastry!) and their customer service in trying to resolve these issues is unacceptable. There is even a twitter account dedicated to Morrisons being terrible but somehow they are still raking in the cash?! How is this possible if everyone is constantly being ripped off?
  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,813 Forumite
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    The answer I think is to thoroughly inspect plants before you buy them.
    Plants are commodities, many rootbound to make mass flowering for sale. That should be checked also.
    The staff just put out the trays and water them. They wont dispose of plants especially with the massive trade they have all the moment.
    Primulas are another to look for mould. They are susceptible and packed tight in moist conditions its going to take hold. Roses and blackspot, rust.
    I've been caught out 3times this year because demand has created a stack em high system to take advantage of the excessive demand at the moment.
    Which plant please?

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  • NibblyPig
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    Thanks for the reply. It was this one Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n Gold' hedge | Hedges Direct

    My local garden place didn't sell this particular one. My local garden place got great reviews and is where I bought my first plant though which also had scale. So I thought perhaps it's just the way things are.

    This retailer was the only one that I could find that had bigger plants, most places sold very tiny ones and I wanted something slightly more established.

    Here's a photo of the problem.

    Hopefully it is easy to treat. I've contacted the retailer with the photos.

    Thanks




  • Farway
    Farway Posts: 13,441 Forumite
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    edited 13 October 2021 at 2:52PM
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    I'm not sure that is scale, or what is generally referred to as scale insects. They live permanently on the stems or underside of leaves as sap suckers, yours appear to be on the top off leaves, and will fall of when the leaf dies

    Could they in fact be tiny snails? There is one snail at the top centre for instance, hard to tell from the photo

    Have you tried just shoving them off?


    Eight out of ten owners who expressed a preference said their cats preferred other peoples gardens
  • NibblyPig
    NibblyPig Posts: 209 Forumite
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    They could be snails, not really sure. On my other plant that had scale, they attached to the leaves as well as the stems although it was a different type of scale as it was much flatter.

    How about this, I originally thought this might be part of the plant but could this actually be millions of tiny insects?



  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,813 Forumite
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    I can't see any legs.
    But the plants do look in less than perfect health. Personally I'd give them a bit of a feed. Blood fish and bone, maybe a few swift waterings of Phostrgen to beef them up a bit.
    I've always found this type to be a bit on the needy side when it comes to growing well where silver queen is almost indestructible.

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  • NibblyPig
    NibblyPig Posts: 209 Forumite
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    I was hoping to plant them, I ordered 6 but they sent 5 and the 6th one was the wrong type, and they're being a bit crap about it. 6 is already stretching it thin, I think if I planted 5 they would just look stupid.

    I got some root grow stuff that you're supposed to dip them in before planting plus a blood/bone fertilizer mix, hence wanting to plant all 6 at once, and I am going away for 3 days so I am going to water them before I leave and hope they survive and I can plant them when I get back and be super fussy over them!
  • Farway
    Farway Posts: 13,441 Forumite
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    Are they in pots? Could well be starved if they are

    As 2P says, try Phostrogen, it also works fine as a foliar feed so a good drenching before or after panting out will help
    Eight out of ten owners who expressed a preference said their cats preferred other peoples gardens
  • Davesnave
    Davesnave Posts: 34,741 Forumite
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    Like others, I don't think you have scale insects. The first picture shows snails and the corky bits on the stems in the other pictures are typical if I remember correctly. They may not be the healthiest of plants, but they should survive and pick up once in the soil.

  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,813 Forumite
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    I would say that farways point about being root bound may be the cause of the stress.
    If they are tease out the roots especially the bottom half. I've taken to grasping the plant firmly and knocking the root ball against the edge of a flower bed. Loosens the roots and frequently you find there's a pocket of dry soil in the middle.
    Then water the planting hole, pop plant in, cover with soil, firm down well then water again from the top.
    Sprinkle a little bfb meal and leave for at least a week. At this time of year you probably won't have to water again.

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