Dealing with houseplant pests does not need to be overwhelming with our quick guide to pest treatment
Just like plants living outside in the wild, houseplants also will occasionally come under attack from a pesky pest. Your plant may have spent months looking green, happy and healthy, and suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, its health starts failing. You may notice yellowing leaves, wilting stems or strange spots on the foliage or stems. And upon taking a closer look, you identify the culprit, and it’s some sort of creepy crawly that has decided to make your plant its home.
It’s normal for beginners to find this overwhelming, but stick with us here, and we’ll teach you a few quick tips on how to treat common pests so your plant is back to thriving in no time.
Prevention is key
Quarantine your plants
The majority of pests make their way into your home via hitching a ride on another plant, so we recommend putting plants in “quarantine” for a week when you first bring them home. During this one week period, carefully inspect the leaves, stems, soil and every nook and cranny for signs of pests. And treat any pests you happen to (but hopefully don’t) find.
Get into the habit of checking your plants regularly – we find weekly watering time is a good time to remember to cast your eye over your collection for signs of any newcomers, allowing you to identify and treat them early, before they spread,
Some houseplants owners also find it useful to use preventative treatment such as neem oil spray, which you can either buy as a pre-made solution or you can mix it up per the instructions on the concentrate bottle, and spray it on their plants once a month to keep pests at bay. We recommend spot testing any treatment prior to covering an entire plant with it so you’re sure the plant will be ok with the spray, as some plants are more sensitive than others.
What to do when you’ve found them? Below are our recommended treatments for the most common houseplant pests
Before starting any treatment, ensure you quarantine any infested plants away from your collection to limit the spread. And ensure you repeat treatment – often one treatment is not enough for tiny pests which are very good at hiding and populating quickly, so repetition is key in order to win the pest battle fast!
How to identify them: These appear as small black buzzing things that congregate in or near soil (especially damp soil).
Treatment: We recommend using neem oil as a soil soak/drench. Mix it per the instructions on the packet, then deeply water the soil of the affected plants until water runs out the base. The aim with this is to drench all soil within the pot. Repeat this process a week later, and then another week after that, to effectively eradicate them
How to identify them: These often appear as small flat tan-coloured bugs on the stems of your plant.
Treatment: Remove what you can with a paper towel that has been dipped in rubbing alcohol. This should be enough to kill them, but we recommend following up with spraying the plant thoroughly with insecticidal soap to catch any that are hiding. You may wish to spray with insecticidal soap again 5 to 7 days later.
How to identify them: These appear as white cotton fluff as well as white soft-bodied insects living on the stems of plants, often hidden within leaves.
Treatment: the same as for scale, remove (and squish) what you can with a paper towel that has been dipped in rubbing alcohol. This should be enough to kill them, and then follow up by spraying the plant thoroughly with insecticidal soap to catch any that are hiding. You may wish to spray with insecticidal soap again 5 to 7 days later.
How to identify them: Usually the damage they do is noticed prior to finding the pests, appearing as a dust-like substance on leaves that won’t rub off or small white dots on a leaf. At infestation levels you may find webbing, and be able to spot the tiny spider-looking pests.
Treatment: Firstly shower the leaves of the infested plant under a tap, hose or shower to dislodge as many mites as you can. Then spray the plant liberally with insecticidal soap, repeating this 5 to 7 days later, and then again another 5 to 7 days later.
Need some help?
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