I’m gonna start off with an apology. You will see disturbing, images in this blog post, that may or may not haunt your sleep. I definitely felt my skin crawl many times while putting this little tip together for you guys.
While I am 100% sure we all love and take care of our plant babies, these little bug(ger)s are inevitable. They can hit your plants in many ways – when you bring home a new plant, contaminated potting soil when you repot, and even ants (yes, these little guys actually bring & keep pests as pets to produce honeydew).
So the most important first step to take when you suspect you may have a pest problem, is to identify which one is it, so we can take the right action! Here are a few of the more common ones that I’ve also been hit by every now and then:
Mealybugs These cute little fluffy guys are soft bodied scale insects, and the worst part is they don’t even look like an insect at first glance. Most people mis take them for fungus or mold on indoor plants. But, when you take a closer look, you can easily see that they are indeed bugs.
Spider Mites The telltale sign of a spider mite infestation is fine webbing on houseplants. This webbing can be anywhere, but it usually starts on the undersides of the leaves, or at the tips of new growth. Take a closer look, and you’ll see tiny mites crawling around on the webbing.
Aphids Commonly found outside in the garden, aphids can get into the house and wreak havoc on your indoor plants. They multiple very quickly, and can spread like wildfire.
They usually cluster on new growth buds, making them more obvious. But many times they will blend in with the foliage, and can easily go unnoticed until the houseplant is completely infested.
Fungus Gnats More annoying than anything – they don’t do massive harm to your plant babies – they are little black gnats that you’ll see flying around houseplants, and crawling in the soil. Since they live and breed in potting soil, they can be very difficult to control.
Scale It can be very difficult to notice scale on a houseplant because they don’t look like bugs at all. They look like harmless bumps or scabs.
For that reason, they usually go unnoticed until the infestation grows very large – which is part of what makes them so hard to control.
Now that you’ve identified whatever’s been giving your plant baby grieve, you can properly treat these pests.
There isn’t one magical way to exterminate all of the different kinds of bugs on houseplants. Many will require specific treatment methods based on their lifecycle, and behaviour.
It’s very important to keep in mind that all types of indoor plant bugs can quickly build up a resistance to chemical pesticides. So, we do highly recommend that you use organic/ natural methods to treat your pest issues.
- Hand picking– Dip a cotton swap in rubbing alcohol, then use it to kill and remove as many of the bugs as you can find. I use this method the most when I manage to spot the bugs before a serious infestation has hit.
- Insecticidal soap – Spraying the leaves with insecticidal soap will kill most of them on contact, giving you the upper hand.
- Strong stream of water – Simply rinsing the leaves with a strong stream of water from the hose, sink, or shower will quickly knock down the population. This is a great practice to also keep your houseplants happy. I like to give my aroids a good weekly shower or bath. Not only does it allow a good thorough watering, it helps to clear out any unwanted guests.
- Neem oil – A naturally occurring pesticide, neem oil kills bugs when they feed on a houseplant. It also has a residual effect that helps deter them. I like to give my plants a spray down every 1-2 weeks, just as a form of preventative.
- Wash the leaves – Use a mild liquid soap to wash the leaves on the infested houseplant. Soap kills all houseplant bugs on contact.
- Sticky traps – Yellow and/or blue sticky traps work great to attract and capture flying bugs, like whiteflies, aphids, thrips and fungus gnats.
I really much prefer if we don’t get these bug infestations, and will always recommend prevention. I personally really like using Diatomaceous Earth, a powder that is harvested from freshwater lakes in Australia – it’s 100% food safe, and safe for all pets & plants! Here’s a quick video on how to use DE on your plants.
Oh, and one last thing.. you can pick up DENutrients from our space in Simei! And if you didn’t already know, it’s great for your pets too! Sounds almost perfect isn’t it?