Houseplant Pest Control - Part 2: How To Get Rid of Houseplant Pests

Houseplant Pest Control - Part 2: How To Get Rid of Houseplant Pests

Welcome to Part 2! In this section of the blog, we will provide you with helpful guidance on treating pests that may be infesting your houseplants. Dealing with plant pests often requires repeated treatments, depending on the type of plant and the severity of the situation.

We recommend incorporating routine checks into your plant care routine to spot pests before a major outbreak occurs. This involves inspecting the backs of leaves and using a magnifying glass to examine every nook and cranny. If you detect any pests during these checks, it's important to isolate the infected plant/plants. If possible, treating the plants in a bathtub is a convenient option.

After ensuring that your plants are free from pests, we suggest investing in predatory bugs from suppliers like @Dragonfli or other integrated pest management providers. This preventive measure can help prevent future outbreaks and ensure that any remaining small populations of pests don't return immediately after you stop direct treatment. Wait at least two weeks after treatment before introducing beneficial bugs.

While some people prefer using pesticides or Neem oil to eliminate pests, we recommend starting with less intensive measures. Pesticides and Neem oil can be misused and may cause harm to foliage, root structure, and other issues.

In most cases, it's difficult to remove pest eggs. If your plant has severely damaged leaves, we recommend cutting them off using sterilised scissors. Discarding these leaves will help break the pest cycle, as they are likely to harbour eggs.

For the recommended methods, make sure you have the following tools on hand:
  • A small brush (an old makeup brush or paintbrush)
  • An old toothbrush
  • Sticky traps (yellow and blue)
  • A spray bottle
  • Rubbing alcohol (around 70%)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3-5%)
  • Unscented or plant-based dish soap
  • Persistence!
Now, let's dive into the details...

Mealy Bugs:
To tackle these fluffy little pests, prepare a mixture of 4 parts water, 1 part rubbing alcohol, and a few drops of unscented dish soap in a dish or bowl. Mix it well and use a brush to thoroughly remove the mealys from the infected plant, paying attention to all the crevices. You can also transfer the mixture to a spray bottle and spray it on the plant. This solution can also be used to combat root mealys by flushing the affected plant. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes before flushing with fresh water. Repeat this treatment once a week until you're confident all life stages of mealys have been eliminated. You can store the solution and use it to spot-treat small outbreaks even after the main treatment.

Keep your plants isolated until you're confident that all pests are gone.

Immediately isolate any infected plants in a separate room away from your other plants. Cover the base of the plant with a bin liner and thoroughly rinse the plant, ensuring the substrate doesn't get excessively wet. If you have a strong setting on your shower head, the water pressure can help wash away the thrips. If possible, remove the top few inches of soil and replace it with fresh soil to prevent any fallen thrips from climbing back onto the plant. Create a mixture of 4 parts water, 1 part rubbing alcohol, and a few drops of unscented dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray the plant and lightly brush the leaves. Spray the plant again and leave it for a few days. While the affected plants are isolated, use sticky traps (preferably blue) to catch any adult thrips, as they can reproduce asexually and fly, making them challenging to eliminate. Repeat the treatment once a week until you're confident all life stages of thrips have been eliminated.

Soak a toothbrush in a dish of rubbing alcohol and gently brush the scale insects in circular motions to loosen their grip on the leaves. If the scales are stubborn, you can use your nail or a butter knife to scrape them off. Repeat the treatment 1-3 times before returning the plant to your collection to ensure all life stages of scales have been eliminated.

Spider Mites:
The treatment for spider mites is similar to that for mealy bugs. Create a mixture of 4 parts water, 1 part rubbing alcohol, and a few drops of unscented dish soap. Mix it well and brush the plant from top to bottom. Repeat this treatment intensively every couple of days for a few weeks until you're confident the spider mites are gone.

Fungus Gnats:
To prevent fungus gnats, there are several measures you can take, such as bottom watering, using sticky pads, or adding a top layer to the soil. However, if you're dealing with a severe infestation, follow these steps to treat it. Use hydrogen peroxide (3-5%) to kill the eggs and larvae, effectively breaking their life cycle. Using sticky pads alongside this treatment will catch any adults attempting to restart the cycle. Simply pour the hydrogen peroxide into the soil until it is fully saturated and let it bubble away. This treatment should be sufficient to eliminate the early life stages of fungus gnats.

Finally, it's important to acknowledge that pests can never be completely eradicated, no matter how much effort we put into managing them. They can exist in our homes, gardens, and even on seemingly healthy plants. They can enter through open windows or doors or hitch a ride on our clothes. Therefore, understanding the relationship between plants and pests is crucial for maintaining a large botanical collection. This understanding will help you keep your plants looking beautiful and healthy, ensuring the long-term success of your plant collection.

Missed Part One? Check it out right here!
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