Indoor Impatiens Has Tiny Hard White Balls Clustered Around Where The Stem Meets Branches

Question From: S. Margolin - Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
Q: I brought my new guinea impatiens inside after a wonderful summer outside. It's in full bloom still and looks healthy. But it has lately gotten tiny hard white balls clustered around where the stem meets the branch. I've felt these things and they are hard, not easy to crush and are growing in amount. I don't know what they are and if they are a danger to the plant. We're in the northeast, the plant is in a window on the southwestern side of the house away from heat and has been just fine until now. Any ideas or advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

A: If they are perfect round spheres, they may be fertilizer spheres added to the soil by the grower. Perlite, often added to potting soil will float and stick to plant stems. If there is no liquid when you crush it, that would be my bet. They may stick to the impatien's stem. If there is liquid in the inside they may be eggs of some sort, but those can usually be crushed when squeezed between your thumb and forefinger. If they are round, but flat they are probably scale. Dabbing them with a q tip dipped in alcohol should kill them. Be diligent as they can spread quickly and are hard to get rid of and they spread to other plants. I know many indoor gardeners that dump scale infected plants. Good Luck, Nancy and Happy Yardening